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Senate seeks LGs’ autonomy, as restructuring tops Nigeria’s Constitution Amendment agenda

The Senate has resolved to consider the grant of fiscal autonomy to the local governments and ensure restructuring of the country.

This is coming as the Senate has inaugurated a committee to review the Nigerian Constitution, which will make it the sixth review of the nation’s constitution.

The constitution review committee which is chaired by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, has 57 members. The committee was inaugurated by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.

Also, the Senate said it would consider the recommendations of the 2014 Constitutional Conference and that of the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led committee on restructuring.

Some of the new items to be considered in the review are: the establishment of National and State Houses of Assembly, pre-election Matters Tribunal, Governorship Pre-election Matters Tribunals, and Presidential Pre-election Matters Tribunal, including time limits for the disposal of all pre-election matters before the conduct of the general elections.

In his address, Omo-Agege said in carrying out the assignment, the committee would consider the alteration of the Sixth Schedule of the constitution to make provision for new items.

“We will also consider the need for devolution of power, full Local Government fiscal autonomy, full autonomy of the judiciary in the area of administration of justice, youth inclusiveness in governance, gender parity or affirmative action.

“This is by no means an exhaustive list. The Committee will also consider inputs from stakeholders and different interest groups across the country.

“In addition, this committee will consider the recommendations of the 2014 Constitutional Conference and the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led Committee on restructuring.

“We would also liaise with our counterparts in the House of Representatives, the State Houses of Assembly and collaborate and build consensus with all stakeholders to ensure synergy.

“Development Partners will also play pivotal roles through counsel, workshops, conferences, and interactions. The partnership roles of the Executive and Judiciary and their invaluable contributions cannot be overlooked as it will enhance efficient and successful outcomes,” Omo-Agege stated.

The DSP stated that over the years, the people appear to have been polarised along different fault lines which often make it impossible to reach the much-needed consensus in some critical areas where fundamental changes in the constitution are required.

To guard against this, he said there was the need for a constitutional amendment that will be consistent with the agitations and aspirations of our people. This is the whole essence of the General Will, he said.

“Our task would be to find a consensus through compromise in order to meet the ever-changing needs of our people. We must understand that the fact that behind our diversity are people united by common challenges of insecurity, unemployment, and good hope for a better future, provides us with the opportunity to focus on those issues that unite us.

“It is only by so doing that we can guarantee success and leave for our children a better, fairer and more just Nigeria than the one we met,” Omo-Agege stated.

While inaugurating the committee, Senate President,  Ahmad Lawan said the continued success of democracy is reasonably dependent on a well-thought-out constitution.

According to him, though no constitution can be faultless, mostly because social dynamics are unpredictable, a good review can increase its functionality, and then decrease social agitations.

“This will not only ensure national harmony but also guarantee the greater peace and progress of our country.  As statesmen, we surely have another noble task on our hands. And it is also a task that I believe my distinguished colleagues, and indeed, the National Assembly will excel at carrying out,” Lawan stated.

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