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Constitution review: NASS to address resource control, derivation formula, others

Nigeria’s 9th National Assembly would address pertinent issues such as resource control, citizenship registration, fiscal federalism, improved derivation formula, devolution of power, and democratization of electoral processes in the present Constitution review efforts.

Ndudi Elumelu, minority leader and chairman of the Subcommittee of the 1999 Constitution Review of the House of Representatives, stated this while speaking at the Asaba zonal hearing comprising Delta, Bayelsa and Edo States.

Elumelu said for any constitution to have legitimacy and acceptance as democratic, it must be a product of the people’s will through citizens’ participation.

“Indeed, the convergence of our leaders and citizens from the three states that make up this cluster, underscores the urgency and significance the people of the states; the people of the Niger Delta region and indeed Nigerians at large, attach to this exercise,” Elumelu said.

“As we go into this exercise, we must bear in mind that every democratic constitution is made by the people for the fulfilment of their collective aspirations and objective as a society.

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“Consequently, any constitution that does not guarantee the fulfilment of such aspirations, is to the extent of such shortcomings, defective, frustrating and cannot deliver benefits to the people. Instead, such constitutions breed discontentment, dissonances, agitations, violence, restiveness, economic retardation and political frictions.

“Your Excellencies, our leaders, ladies and gentlemen, the current 1999 (as amended) has been adjudged by many as being replete with grave defects which are inimical to and frustrating the practice of a federal system that most Nigerians desire.

“There are also agitations for creation of additional states as well as the inclusion of the traditional institution as a special tier with statutory roles for our traditional rulers.

“Across the Niger Delta region, there has been demands that the Federal Government should completely relinquish ownership, control, and management of oil and gas resources situated in the various states of the region.

“As a critical stakeholder in the Niger Delta, I have witnessed firsthand the challenges that lead to the various agitations. These include the agonizing poverty and lack, unemployment, disregard to demands for local content in employment and other opportunities that abound in the oil and gas sector, oil spillage and environmental degradation, decayed infrastructure and painful neglect, despite the huge economic resources coming from the region,” the lawmaker stated.

Elumelu stated that the situation in Niger Delta has led to restiveness and avoidable violence, saying voices of Nigerians in the region have become unmistakably loud, and the time has come to address those vexed issues and ensure a more stable and productive nation, through the desired constitution amendment.

“This public hearing, therefore, offers a voice as well as an ear to the aspiration of the people. Of course, any system that ignores such a loud voice from the citizens is doing so at its own peril.

“It is however imperative to state that nothing in this exercise gives room for any question on the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria as one indivisible nation. The public hearing and desired amendments, rather than detract from our national cohesiveness, are aimed at consolidating our national unity by ensuring a stronger federal system with greater participation of citizens in governance at all levels.

“I, therefore, urge all stakeholders and participants to come up with progressive submissions and recommendations that will engender stronger national unity and greater productivity,” he said.

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