By Adeola Badru – Ibadan
Some members of the National Assembly have disclosed that they have not stopped work on the process of amending the 1999 Constitution, assuring Nigerians that the amended document would be ready before the end of the Ninth National Assembly.
Speaking with journalists in Ibadan, on Sunday, at a town hall meeting with their constituents, the lawmakers, Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi from Ekiti North, Senator Tolu Odebiyi from Ogun West, Senator Kola Balogun from Oyo South, Mr. Bamidele Salam, who represented Ede North/Ede South/Egbedore /Ejigbo Federal Constituency of Osun State; Isiaka Ibrahim, who represented Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency of Ogun State, and Babajide Obanikoro, who represents Eti-Osa Federal Constituency of Lagos State, said there is no going back on the amendment of the constitution.
Salami said: “The constitution will be amended before the end of this Ninth National Assembly. I want to assure you that the amendment will be done. But let me tell you that amending a document such as a constitution of a country is a very serious business. It is an assignment that requires wide-ranging engagements of critical stakeholders, opinion moulders, and institutions.
“Even though we may not have cameras being beamed on what is being done presently, that does not mean that nothing is being done. People sent in memoranda from everywhere and there were submissions made by members of the National Assembly themselves to amend certain aspects of the constitution.
“All these will be aggregated into a sizable portion so that we don’t have an unwieldy set of clauses being pushed forward for amendment. Very soon, we will start seeing more activities in that regard. Before the end of this year, we would have been able to see some things.
“Some of those provisions will be sent to the houses of assembly very soon, especially the ones that we have formed consensus on, they will be passed and sent and others will follow suit in the last part of this Ninth National Assembly.”
Giving an insight into the aspects Nigerians want to be amended, he said the South-West wanted devolution of powers and true federalism more than anything; and the creation of more states was more dominant from the South-East. He added that the issue of moving derivation funds from 13 per cent to 50 per cent is very important to the people of the South-South.
The lawmaker also said the policing system would be touched by the amendment, saying it was out of place for the police to draw resources from the states and local government while those who they benefit from have no say in their operations.
“It is my desire and that of my people that we should unbundle the policing system in Nigeria. It is actually in our own interest and I get baffled at times when I see those who are afraid of that. I don’t know what anybody is afraid of in unbundling the Police to have a decentralised control system, a more decentralised funding system.
“I was a local government chairman and we were buying tyres and batteries for police vehicles and paying them allowance even though we did not have control over them. As a member of the National Assembly today, the police in my constituency still write letters to me to come and repair their vehicles.
“If we have a system that wants to derive resources from local and state governments, and they have no say in the recruitments and their operations, how does that work?”
I am very hopeful that the amended constitution will take good care of this area,” he added.
A member of the House of Representatives from Ifo/ Ewekoro Federal Constituency of Ogun State, Isiaka Ibrahim, said Nigerians would see the progress made so far by the lawmakers concerning the amendment of the constitution as from January 27.
Ibrahim said: “Based on the work plan that has just been rolled out, the constitution will be passed on to the President for his assent. The amended constitution would be transmitted to the President before the end of February.”
The town hall meeting was organised by Daria Media and supported by MacArthur Foundation