…Senators Olujimi, Bwacha agree with Ganduje
…We’re studying Ganduje’s proposal — Reps
…NASS’ll give Nigerians reviewed constitution in June this year, Senate
By Henry Umoru & Levinus Nwabughiogu
THE Senate yesterday shut down the proposal by Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, that cattle movement from the north to the southern part of the country be banned to put a stop to farmers and herders’ clashes.
The governor had, while on a visit to Presidential Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State, proposed that a law be made to stop such movements but the Senate replied him, saying such a law would be unconstitutional, even as two senators, Biodun Olujimi, PDP, Ekiti South, and Emmanuel Bwacha, PDP, Taraba South, concurred with the governor.
Ganduje said: “We are building a Ruga settlement in Samsosua Forest, our border with Katsina and we have succeeded in curtailing the effect of banditry in that area. So, we are building many houses, we are constructing a dam; we are establishing a Cattle Artificial Insemination Centre; we are establishing veterinary clinic and already, we have started building houses for herdsmen.
“My advocacy is that we should abolish the transportation or trekking of herdsmen from the northern part of Nigeria to the Middle Belt and Southern part of Nigeria. There should be a law that will ban open grazing, otherwise we cannot control the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers and cannot control the cattle rustling which is affecting us greatly.”
The Senate’s position came on a day it also said it had reviewed and analysed the 2014 National Conference Report, the APC Ad-hoc Committee report on true federalism and other previous reports on improving the 1999 Constitution, promising to get the constitution reviewed in June.
Speaking with Vanguard on Ganduje’s proposal, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, All Progressives Congress, APC, Osun Central, said if a law was made as proposed by the governor, it would not only be unconstitutional, but also go contrary to the part of the constitution which stipulates that Nigerians, irrespective of state of birth or nativity had right to freedom of movement.
He said: “ I don’t think such a law will be constitutional. Nigerians have right to freedom of movement, irrespective of state of birth or nativity. The challenge largely is law enforcement and security as well as need for modernized animal husbandry system in the country.”
Olujimi, Bwacha agree with Ganduje
However, former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, People Democratic Party, PDP, Ekiti South, agreed with the Kano State governor, saying if such a law was enacted, it would nip in the bud the incessant incidences of clashes between farmers and herders as well as resolve the many cases of rape where school girls and women are constantly raped.
Olujimi said: “If enacted into law, it resolves what we are facing at the moment across the country, though it may look discriminatory as it is not good enough for us as a country because we ought to live together as one, but happenings at the moment are scary frightening, disgusting, disheartening and damning.
“Bad Fulanis have infiltrated the good ones we used to have, they are committing serious havoc, women and girls are constantly raped, there is fear and despondency in the land, female students are afraid to travel to schools and others can no longer travel.
‘’If the proposal will solve the problem of armed banditry and kidnapping, it is a welcome development.’’
Also speaking in support of the governor, Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, PDP, Taraba South, said: “ Very true, there is enough land in the North for grazing, for the herders to use. I agree with Governor Ganduje of Kano.”
We’re studying Ganduje’s proposal — Reps
Also speaking, spokesman of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, said in a statement: “If there are propositions from the public on any aspect of the citizens’ lives that they need interventions, our job is to look at those propositions and weigh the merits and the demerits of such propositions against our constitution and other extant laws as well as the values it brings to the socio, political and economic system of the country.
‘’The weight of such propositions on the scale of value addition, legality, constitutionalism and the true principles of democracy will determine the way we treat such propositions.
“It’s either we treat such propositions against the time, handle it immediately or we keep it in abeyance or we reject it absolutely. So, the way the House of Representatives treats propositions from the public, which is one of the ways we make laws; you must respect the opinion of the masses if they pass through these test I have just mentioned.
“We will either say yes to it, no to it or keep it in waiting until it is ripe for us to look at such propositions, in view of what is currently happening in the country.
“There are so many good propositions but the timing is wrong. So, you have to wait and follow it one after the other. “On the issue of movement of cattle, we do a critical analysis of the position of very intelligent Governor Ganduje. Ganduje has been an expert in agriculture. He is a stakeholder in animal husbandry. He ought to know the challenges of the sector.
‘’He also ought to know what will be the solution. So, we have to look at such propositions well and see whether it will go as a private bill before the House. We will see the credibility of such propositions. “As a proposition, the House will look at it. Nothing stops any private bill from coming up. And it is not the position of any single person to say we are accepting or not. It is the House that will debate it on its merit during the debate stage, that is the second hearing.
‘’Then we will be able to know whether it will pass through or not but the idea is what we will critically analyze and see how we will put it into a legislative framework.”
NASS’ll give Nigerians reviewed constitution in June
Meanwhile, the Senate has said that the National Assembly was set to give to Nigerians a reviewed Constitution in June this year, saying many Nigerians were expectant of the outcome of the exercise by the Constitution Review Committee of the National Assembly.
Speaking at a retreat to review and analyse memoranda received from Nigerians towards the proposed amendment of 1999 Constitution, Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee, Senator Ovie Omo- Agege, All Progressives Congress, APC, Delta Central, disclosed that the leadership of the National Assembly has decided to complete and give Nigerians a reviewed constitution within this legislative term. This was contained in a communique issued at the end of a retreat of the committee, signed in Abuja yesterday by the Chief of Staff to Deputy Senate President, Dr Otive Igbuzor, and Robert Emukpoeruo, SAN, Lead Consultant to the Senate ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.
The communique read: “The task of the retreat is to work with the technical consultants and other experts to analyse these memoranda and produce concise recommendations that will translate into bills proposal for the Senate Committee.
“The memoranda received from the public on review of the committee cover diverse issues, including gender equality and affirmative action, including inclusiveness of women, youth and persons with a disability, devolution of power to the federating units, local government fiscal autonomy, the unfettered autonomy of the judiciary, derivation, streamlining of criteria for qualification for participation in elective offices at all levels.
“It was convened in partnership with National Democratic Institute, NDI, and UN Women, with the support of the government of Sweden and United States Agency for International Development, USAID.
“Between then and now, 60 bills for constitutional amendments, sponsored by senators across party lines, have been introduced on the floor of the Senate, and over 250 memoranda have been received by the committee from the public.
“The Deputy Senate President tasked the technical committee to work towards finalising the constitution review bill for passage in June 2021, because many Nigerians are expectant of the outcome of the exercise.
“He stated that the leadership of the National Assembly has decided to complete and give Nigerians a reviewed constitution within this legislative term.
“Key presentations were made by experts on increasing participation of women in governance, and recommendations that will support women to seek elective offices at the local government, state and federal levels.
“Some of the recommendations in the memoranda considered at the retreat covered making constitutional provision for allocation of 35 per cent of political positions reserved for female candidates and gender inclusiveness in the constitution.’’
In her opening remarks to the retreat, the UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Comfort Lamptey, noted the low representation of women in public life especially in Nigeria’s political sphere, lamenting that Nigeria ranked 185 in the world on women participation in governance.
Also speaking at the retreat, the Country Director, National Democratic Institute, NDI, Dr Stephen Snook, commended the initiative of the National Assembly to review the constitution and urged the committee to pay close attention to issues concerning promoting gender rights, especially in the area of equality and women’s rights. “The UN Women and NDI partnered with the office of the Deputy Senate President in convening the retreat”, he said.
“The retreat broke into working groups, each group reviewing in details allocated memoranda from the public. At the end of the retreat, all the 254 memoranda were analysed and summarized. Key issues in the memoranda include the creation of states and local governments, restructuring the federation by the review of the derivation principles and legislative powers of the federal, state and local governments.
“The retreat at the closing session received the specific recommendations from the working groups, which will be elaborated by the technical committee towards producing the final report and bills for the review of the constitution,’’ he said.