Omo-Agege
Omo-Agege

By Henry Umoru

The standing Committee of the Senate on the review of  the 1999 Constitution has assured that the report where Senators will vote on the issues will be ready in July before the lawmakers embark on their annual recess.

Addressing Journalists yesterday in Abuja,  Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege,  All Progressives Congress, APC, Delta Central has also assured that the Electoral Act amendment Bill will be ready in July, just  as he stressed that prior to the close of submission of memoranda,  the Committee had received 250 memoranda, but have been suppressed into sixteen issues of discourse,  adding that there was still room for fresh submissions at the six geopolitical zones of the country where the zonal public  hearings will hold simultaneously in all the centres on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th May 2021.

According to him, Gender Equality for Women, Federal Structure and Power devolution Local Government / Local Government Autonomy, State Local Government Creation, Electoral Reform,  State Police, Judicial Reforms, Time-line for Assent of Bills and Passage of Appropriation Bill, others will  form issues of discourse in the process of the Constitution review.

Omo- Agege who is the Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee disclosed that there was no appropriation for the exercise in the 2021 budget, said that the Committee was making with the 2020 budget allocation as it was waiting for supplementary budget, even as he stressed that there was no challenge in the area of funds and the activities of the Committee will not be affected as it will deliver as at when due.

Omo- Agege said, “Whatever position will find favour with 2 third majority of members of the Senate and then after, the House of Representatives , and the state Houses  of Assembly  is another matter. I assure you that we will be fair. We are working on a timetable. Time is no longer on our side. Nigerians who are clamouring for this expect we come up with a finished project in no time.

“The calendar we set for ourselves is that we are going to have a vote on each of the bills before we go on the July recess. I am not so sure of  what date, but before we proceed on the long recess, the votes will be taken on these 16 thematic areas.”

On Budget, he said, “In 2021 budget we have not received an appropriation yet. I believe it was an oversight, so we are still working with the 2020 budget. We are hoping  that during the supplementary exercise, we will be accommodated.

“The National Assembly, we are taking no position, we are seeking to make a people’s alteration into the constitution, it is not our views, yes we represent them. At the end of the day, we have our votes to cast, at plenary, the hope and expectation is that whatever vote we cast, will be the vote that will represent the hope and aspiration of the people. Each one of us has one vote cast.

“The Senate President is very clear on this, we have taken no position except with respect to bills that were proposed by us individuals”

On why no joint public hearings by the Senate and House of Representatives, Omo-Agege said, “We had clamoured to have that with the house but their calendar could not accommodate that. They have a security retreat. But I assure you the committees  consultant are working  in reviewing the bill. I can assure there is little or no differences so far. We would loved to have a joint hearing but our calendars have not permitted that.”

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According to Omo-Agege, ” by the time the window for receiving these memoranda closed, the Committee had received over 250 memoranda. The memoranda have been analysed and the Committee have held several consultations and meetings to deliberate on the process and submissions in preparation for the Public hearings at the national and zonal levels.  Following from the analysis of the memoranda submitted, the issues have increased to sixteen as listed below: Gender Equity/Increased participation of Women and Vulnerable groups in governance, The Federal Structure in governance and Power Devolution, Local Government Administration/Local Government autonomy, Public Revenue, Fiscal Federalism and Revenue Allocation Constitutional Provision for the Establishment of State Police, Judicial Reform – Adjudication of election and pre-election matters and other justice delivery concerns.

“Electoral Reforms that will make INEC deliver transparent, credible, free and fair elections, Political parties, Independent candidature and election management  Socio-economic rights as contained in Chapter II of the Constitution.

Residency and indigeneship Immunity – Removal of immunity in prima facie criminal cases  Time-line for Assent of Bills and Passage of Appropriation Bill

States and local government creation Strengthening the independence of institutions like the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Auditor General of the Federation and Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

F.C.T. Administration, the Legislature and Legislative Bureaucracy Constitutional Role for Traditional Rulers.”

Omo- Agege further said, ” to further create opportunity for citizens to make inputs into the amendment process on any of the issues listed above or wish to present, introduce or promote new issues that will promote good governance and unity of the country, the Committee is embarking on public hearings at the 6 geo-political zones and at the national level. To bring the process closer to the people the hearing will take place in 2 centers in each of the 6-geo-politacal zones as follows: North Central: Jos centre is chaired by Senator Abdullahi Adamu and comprised of Plateau, Benue and Nasarawa while, Minna centre is chaired by Senator Abdullahi Sabi Aliyu and comprised of Kogi, Kwara, Niger state and FCT

“North East: Gombe centre is chaired by Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje and comprised of Gombe, Taraba and Adamawa, while Bauchi centre is chaired by Senator Abubakar Kyari and comprised of Bauchi, Borno and Yobe state. North West: Kaduna Centre is chaired by Senator Kabiru Gaya and comprised of Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Jigawa state while, Sokoto centre is chaired by Senator Muhammed Aliero and comprised of Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara state

“South East: Enugu Centre is chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu and comprised of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu state while, Owerri centre is chaired by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and comprised of Abia and Imo state

” South South: Asaba centre is chaired by Senator James Manager and comprised of Bayelsa, Delta and Edo state while, Port-Harcourt centre is chaired by Senator Betty Apiafi and comprised of Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers state.

“South West: Akure centre is chaired by Senator Ajayi Boroffice and comprised of Ekiti, Ondo and Osun state while, Lagos centre is chaired by Senator Oluremi Tinubu and comprised of Lagos, Ogun and Oyo state

The zonal hearings will hold simultaneously in all the centres on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th May 2021. The 2 days is to give Nigerians ample opportunity to make their presentations.

“After the zonal hearings, there will also be a National Public hearing in Abuja on Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th of June 2021 to give opportunity to those especially, Government agencies and other stakeholders who could not attend the zonal hearings.”

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