By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Monday, expressed doubt over the positive outcome of the ongoing consultation on the review of 1999 Constitution across the six geopolitical zones and Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Speaking with Vanguard they said the amendment consultation should focus on areas Nigerians have been agitating for amendment on some gray areas that have hampered rapid development of the country after the return of democracy in 1999.
Some also called on the Buhari-led administration and the National Assembly to adopt the 2014 Confab report as a major instrument to amend the 1999 Constitution, which addressed most of the issues heating up the polity currently.
However, they cautioned that this time around of another constitutional amendment process, taxpayers’ money should not be used for political jamboree but to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.
Buhari hasn’t shown interest in Constitutional review — Atoye
The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said, “As much we urgently require a total overhaul of the grundnorm, I see the 9th National Assembly as capable of achieving anything significant with the ongoing review.
“The leadership of the 9th National Assembly has put the interest of the Executive Arm of government above the Interest of Nigerians. From all indications, General Buhari has not shown any interest in the review, making the entire process to be doubted.
“The insincere attitude of the 9th National Assembly and its leadership to the Electoral Amendment process is another indication that these lawmakers cannot be trusted to sincerely do the people’s bidding in this regard.
“There is no hope with Buhari; what we can do is pray to God for strength to endure until we can elect good leaders in 2023, and that is why the need to get the electoral process right ahead of the general election is sacrosanct.”
Use of Confab 2014 report will save us lots of resources — HOMEF
The Director, Health for Mother Earth Foundation, Arc Nnimmo Bassey, said, “The Executive and the NASS can save us a lot of resources by simply picking up the Confab 2014 report and moving the recommendations forward. There are policy recommendations simply waiting for adoption and implementation. There are other issues that are constitutional. Of course, there are a couple of areas that couldn’t be resolved by the Confab and required further debates.
“The contentious areas on their own indicate a pathway that this nation cannot delay or avoid forever. That path is one of formulating a totally new constitution. We cannot panel beat a centrist system and expect to run a truly federal system. That cannot work and has never worked.
“We need to rebuild a sense of nationhood, a dream or who we wish to be. Right now there are serious wedges pushing the various nationalists apart.
“The most urgent problems facing Nigeria today do not require constitutional amendments or reformulation. The major crises we have are over the issue of leadership. We have a situation where the people are like sheep without shepherds.
“And why does the government choose to ignore the 2014 Confab report? Because it didn’t midwife it? People are even asking for a return to the 1963 constitution. To some of us, that would serve better purposes than the current tinkering efforts.”
Exclusive Legislative List needs to go — CN
The Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, said, “This current senate does not the will or integrity to carry out a holistic constitutional amendment. There are many things in the constitution that need to go, those items on the Exclusive legislative list need to go, and that is the first step.
“Any attempt not to put that in the front-burner is just a waste of time because that is what is hampering the development of this country, responsible for insecurity, lack of jobs, and others. so that Exclusive Legislative List needs to go.
“That is the main thing we have to focus on. We need to make that Chapter Two of the Constitution justifiable. Those Caveats in Chapter Four on fundamental human rights but you give rights with the right hand and takes back rights with the left hand by putting those provisos in the constitution will need to go.
“There are other issues on the federating units, the local government system must work, grant them and the judiciary full autonomy, and those things must be constitutionally driven and that of Section 287 on judgments of courts because that is one of the major problems we have in the country, where judgments of courts are disobeyed, and we must be specific that all judgments of courts there should be more amendments to support them.
“There must be punishment for those who breach and disobeys judgments of courts whether be it federal government, CBN, the Police, Military and others. We must put forward a constitution that represents the yearnings and aspirations of the Nigerian people.”
NASS should use 2014 National Confab report for amendment — CISLAC
The Executive Secretary, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said, “It is high time that Nigerian taxpayers’ monies are properly utilized. The ongoing Constitutional Review exercise does not go the way previous exercises have gone this is because a lot of financial resources, time wasted and energy for provoking hope for Nigerians that issues they have been canvassing will be addressed, and at the end of the exercise nothing happens.
“Secondly, there is no audit of what has happened in terms of process, resources spent and we cannot continue wasting taxpayers’ monies on an exercise that is not designed to work.
“Nigerians need this exercise to work, ensure it is not seen as a political jamboree, meant well to address the constitutional challenges that we have in the country.
“It is important the National Assembly make use of the 2014 national confab report and even the previous ones to see what they can make use, enhance and improve the plight of Nigerians.
“Basically, the contentious issues we have in our constitution are known. So there is no need to beat about the bush. People are talking about strengthening federalism, devolution of power, fiscal allocation is addressed including the imbalances, indigene issue, women inclusion and mainstreaming in the governance process, and others.
“These are some of the issues people are yearning for. The National Assembly has enough time to send peace-meal amendments because politics will take away the value or the substance.
“If the National Assembly has taken these issues one after the other since 1999, this process supposed not to have been politicized but taken with passionate concern.”
Vanguard News Nigeria