Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has said over 280 memoranda have been received by the Senate Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution from members of the public for consideration .
He stated this on Friday in a keynote address at a two-day retreat session on the review of the constitution.
Omo-Agege said “… the sole purpose of this retreat is to review and analyze the 2014 National Conference Report, the Report of the APC Ad-hoc Committee on True Federalism and the over 280 memoranda we have received from the public and translate them into bills proposals for the senate committee.”
He added that “These memoranda and positions express concern, as well as seek solutions, to the many problems that currently confront us as a country. And they come from diverse interests that make up our country. They cover a range of areas that include, inter alia, the devolution of power to the federating units by, way of moving some items from the exclusive, to the concurrent list.”
Read his full speech below:
A KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR OVIE OMO- AGEGE, THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, AT A TWO-DAY RETREAT SESSION ON THE REVIEW OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION, ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 29, 2021
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.
1. I welcome all of you to this very important event, which is another milestone towards the much needed Constitutional Review in our country Nigeria. We may recall that it was exactly a year yesterday since the Senate Ad hoc Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitutional was inaugurated.
2. Since then members of the Committee have worked diligently to get us to this point. Over 60 bills for constitutional amendments sponsored by senators across party lines have been introduced on the floor of the Senate.
3. Ladies and gentlemen, the sole purpose of this retreat is to review and analyze the 2014 National Conference Report, the Report of the APC Ad-hoc Committee on True Federalism and the over 280 memoranda we have received from the public and translate them into bills proposals for the senate committee.
4. These memoranda and positions express concern, as well as seek solutions, to the many problems that currently confront us as a country. And they come from diverse interests that make up our country. They cover a range of areas that include, inter alia, the devolution of power to the federating units by, way of moving some items from the exclusive, to the concurrent list.
5. Of equal importance are issues of Local Government fiscal autonomy, the unfettered autonomy of the judiciary in line with their traditional role of the administration of justice. Others are issues of derivation, streamlining of criteria for qualification for participation in elective offices at all levels, such that more people are encouraged to participate. There is also issue of affirmative action and gender equality, plus youth inclusiveness in the governance process. We are also concerned with measures that will help fight perennial poverty and help address the ever-growing concern on national security as well as the security and safety of Nigerians wherever they reside in the country. Some of these areas need to be addressed directly in the Constitution.
6. By the time we began work January last year, we were faced with a 32-header 1999 Constitutional Alteration Bills. In the course of our work the issues have become clearer, and a lot of things have been streamlined for your consideration. I implore you to give these issues the passionate attention they deserve. The overall objective is that we have a workable, most representative Constitution after the exercise, that should be as straight-forward as possible. This way, more people will take interest in politics because the Constitution would have met their desires and aspirations. The fact that it is straight-forward enough would mean that less and less of its provisions and sections would require judicial interpretation. This will reduce the challenge of Constitution-interpretation-related work pressure on the Judiciary. Such reduced pressure, you will agree with me, will be salutary to the independence of the Judiciary.
7. One other area I will implore you to take keen interest in, is the rather hackneyed terminology of “marginalization”. Marginalization is arguably one of the ugliest words in the Nigerian lexicon. Practically every ethnic nationality, religious, social and other group, complains of marginalization. To take care of this, we should continue to identify, emphasize, explore and exploit those things that unite us as one nation. At the same time, we should continue to isolate and avoid those things that tend to divide us.
8. Ladies and gentlemen, if you look at the checklist of your terms of reference, you should be able to work out recommendations, such that the final document we end up with, by way of a reviewed and amended Constitution, will give practically no place to the offending word. Our goal is to have a document that Nigerians, be they from the East, West, North or South, will be proud to claim ownership of.
9. Finally, I commend all of you most profoundly for taking up this all-important national assignment. By this exercise, your intellectual contributions to our nation’s constitutional development will be written in history for all times. I urge you to take on this duty with truly patriotic passion and real commitment.
10. I wish you all very fruitful deliberations. Thank you and may God bless us all.
HE Senator Ovie Omo-Agege
Deputy President of the Senate
(The Obarisi of Urhoboland)