The House of Representatives on Friday, commenced a 2-day retreat on the review of the 1999 Constitution in Abeokuta, Ogun capital. The theme of the retreat, organised by the House Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review, is “The Imperatives of Constitution Review/Amendment in Nation Building.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, who declared the retreat open, urged the committee to be guided by national interest and not parochial, sectional or religious considerations in its assignment.
Dogara, represented by the Majority Leader of the House, Yinka Gbajabiamila, enjoined the committee to consult widely and come up with a constitution that would stand the test of time. He stressed the need for the committee to leverage on areas where the 7th National Assembly had secured consensus of the National Assembly and approval of the various state Houses of Assembly.
The Chairman of committee, Mr Lasun Yussuff, said that the House had been working tirelessly to ensure that the 4th Alteration Bill was given speedy passage. Yussuff, who is also the Deputy Speaker of the House, stated that the retreat would avail the committee opportunity to consult with stakeholders on the issue.
He added that the event would enable the committee to come up with a constitution that would positively impact on Nigeria’s democratic process. “Constitution amendment process is a serious matter and oftentimes challenging.
“Thus, the committee is involving the participation of various stakeholders to make their much-needed contributions,” he said. He listed issues for constitutional review to include; same sex marriage, resource control and local government creation. Others according to him are state police, electoral laws and appointment of judges.
He noted that the 7th Assembly had effected exhaustive amendments to the constitution, adding that the 8th Assembly would rely on the framework laid by the previous Assembly to address unresolved issues.
“Here in Nigeria, several attempts made to amend the constitution have often ended in futility. ‘’We have decided that the process should commence and fast-tracked to ensure a time passage of the Bill,” he said.
A former Judge of the International Court of Justice, Hague, Mr Bola Ajibola, urged the committee to consider their assignment as crucial to the future of the nation. Ajibola spoke on the theme of the retreat, “The Imperatives of Constitution Review/Amendment in Nation Building.”
Ajibola, also a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, urged the committee to use the instrument of the constitutional amendment to address Nigeria’s ailing economy.