Constitutional review: Reps to prioritise electoral, judicial, local govt. reforms

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The House of Representatives says it will prioritise issues of local government, electoral and judicial reforms in amending the 1999 Constitution.

Deputy Speaker of the House, Rep. Idris Ahmed Wase, made this known at a retreat organised for members of the House Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review on Monday in Abuja.

Wase said it was evident that the country was passing through serious challenges as a result of the local government system not working as it should.

The federal lawmaker stressed the need for the house to pay special attention to the named issues as they embarked on amending the constitution.

According to him, lawmakers have the opportunity to write their names in gold by ensuring that they do everything possible to give Nigerians a people-oriented constitution.

He said that review of the electoral process was particularly important to give Nigerians a direction in its democratic growth.

Wase said that state creation as well as women participation in politics would also be given special attention by the house committee.

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”This is about our nation building. We have the opportunity to write our names in gold in whatever we are going to do here.

“We should be guided by the fact that Nigeria needs very critical reforms at this very particular time.

“By our own design at the secretariat, we thought we should segment the issues in the country so that we will have them in batches.

“We are not going to have one batch constitutional review like it was done in the past. As issues come, we shall be treating them and we have classified the issues,” he said.

Prof. Dakas C.J. Dakas, the lead consultant to the committee, said in reviewing the constitution the house must take cognisance of the participation of Nigerians in the process.

He said in carrying out the exercise, the committee must find a way to harvest the views of Nigerians, while paying special attention to certain constitutional provisions.

He said this was necessary in order not to render the outcome of the exercise a nullity.

Dakas, a professor of law, said that there was the need for the committee to work in collaboration with its Senate counterpart.

He suggested a joint public hearing rather than seeing each other as rivals.

The Head, Governance Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, Mr Sam Waldock said the British Government had invested about 50 million pounds in supporting democracy in Nigeria in the last five years.

Waldock said the United Kingdom (UK) was proud to support democratic development in Nigeria, especially as it related to electoral reforms.

He said that it was the expectation of the UK government that the outcome of the review would lead to fundamental rebuilding of Nigeria’s democracy.

Waldock stressed that as the largest democracy in Africa and leading member of the Commonwealth, it was important for Nigeria to have a constitution that reflected the wishes aspirations of the people.

The Executive Director, Policy and Legislative Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Mr Clement Nwankwo, said the committee should give special attention to the issue of women participation in the nation’s political landscape.

He also said that the lawmakers should synergise with their counterparts in the senate and states to ensure a successful review. (NAN)

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