Nigeria: Senate in Focus – Is the 9th Assembly Constitution Amendment a Jamboree?

The first press conference announcing the commencement of the constitution amendment by the 9th assembly addressed by the deputy Senate president Ovie Omo-Agege, a question was asked if the process will be a jamboree.

The question was coming on the fact that since 2003, every assembly conducted a constitution amendment but only one was signed into law.

One billion has been budgeted for the process each legislative year since its commencement in 2003.

While Omo-Agege was getting his footing in debunking the insinuation that the constitution amendment might be a jamboree, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan dismissed claims that the exercise to amend the 1999 Constitution embarked on by both chambers of the National Assembly is waste of time and a jamboree.

During a press conference to mark the second anniversary of the ninth Senate held at the National Assembly complex, Abuja the Nation’s capital, Lawan assured that the National Assembly’s commitment to genuinely accomplish the amendment task is high.

Lawan said that aside from being a continuous legislative activity of both the previous, current and forthcoming assemblies, the amendment exercise is always embarked on due to public clamourings.

He emphasised that the continued complaints of Nigerians who pick inherent flaws in the current 1999 Constitution cannot be ignored by the legislature thus the need to review the constitution.

Citing the ‘Not Too Young To Run (Age Reduction) Bill’ passed by the National Assembly and signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 31, 2018, Ahmed explained that previous amendment exercises were never in vain.

“What we try to do is to bring good governance, what we try to achieve so as to make life meaningful for Nigerians, this must be the mandate and focus of not only those in the national assembly.

“Constitution review is another legislative activity that we must entertain and we are amending the constitution because Nigerians are complaining about so many things in the constitution or so many other things that are not in the constitution.

“Should we turn deaf ears and insist that the current constitution stands and continue to operate with it ,our duty is to look at those areas in the constitution that Nigerians are complaining about and we also look at those areas that are missing which Nigerians are insisting must be in the constitution.

“My position is that it is the responsibility and response to the yearnings and aspirations of the people we represent. Every past, current and forthcoming Senate will continue to embark on constitution review unless Nigerians stop complaining about the constitution.

Lawan pointed out that the efforts of the National Assembly will be futile if one or more other parties involved don’t act on its resolutions.

Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu; Deputy Senate leader, Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice; Senate leader, Dr Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Senate Chief whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; then Senate minority Whip Philip Aduda; then Deputy senate minority Whip, Sahabi Alhaji Ya’u; then Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Bwacha Emmanuel; Umar Sadiq; Yahaya Oloriegbe were all present when Lawan spoke.

Since the constitution amendment bills got to the State House of Assemblies in March 202, nothing has been heard about it. In fact the much needed local government autonomy seems to have hit a dead end while the other 43 bills, nothing has been heard about it.

As the 9th assembly is winding down, we await to see how the constitution amendment by the 9th National Assembly won’t be a jamboree.

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