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Constitution review: NBA’s U-turn shocking –Senate

From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja

Senate has expressed shock and surprise at the volte-face of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on National Assembly’s proposal to amend the 1999 Constitution. The Upper legislative chamber told NBA National President, Okey Wali (SAN), that the association could not “disown” the on-going process of amending the Constitution after it had submitted its memorandum to the National Assembly.

However, there seems to be no let-up, in the war words between aides of President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly leadership. Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), said aides of President Jonathan had no understanding of the presidential system, which is all about persuading people and not setting up two arms of government against each other.

Earlier in the week, Wali had criticised the large number of clauses slated for amendment by the federal legislature just as he wondered how taking the exercise to 360 federal constituencies would help the process.

The NBA president also wondered why the National Assembly was in a hurry to amend the Constitution when President Jonathan was yet to forward the Justice Alfa Belgore Report on Constitution Amendment to it for consideration.

The Senate Leader described comments attributed to Wali as a volte-face and an attempt to “approbate and reprobate” at the same time. Ndoma-Egba insisted in an interview with newsmen in Abuja yesterday that the National Assembly was forging ahead with the amendment, regardless of President Jonathan’s delay in transmitting the Belgore report to the legislature for consideration.

His words: “I am a bit surprised because for the current exercise, we have two memoranda from the NBA and the NBA was very active in the exercise of the sixth National Assembly. In fact, if I recall, we had a retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Constitution amendment and after that, they submitted a memorandum of their views to the National Assembly.

For this exercise that they have reservations about, they have participated actively. The law would say that you are approbating and reprobating at the same time. They have participated actively (in the process).”

“From 1999, the NBA has always responded positively to Constitution amendment by setting up its own committee for Constitution amendment. They have always responded to the process. So, the NBA has responded to the process by submitting memoranda; including this one. So, to now turn around and say the process is rudderless is what I really cannot understand.

We had a public hearing recently in Abuja and we called them to come and present their memoranda, even though they ended up not showing up; but we still have their memorandum, which is an input and a resource material, which we are going to work on. “We have always seen the NBA as a partner in the process of Constitution review and if you recall, in the last public hearing in Abuja, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who also chairs the Senate Constitution Review Committee, had in his remarks, specifically mentioned the NBA as a partner and other civil service organisations.

“No matter how we appear ‘rudderless’ in our current democratic dispensation, the amendment of the Constitution has been successful. Our representation as a parliament, as a National Assembly, is to accept every suggestion, every idea that is brought to the table by every Nigeria, high or low.

“We are not editors to begin to sit down to edit what is in the best interest of Nigerians or what is not in the best interest of Nigerians. Our responsibility is to collate them. Now, the Constitution has prescribed the mechanism for amendment and the mechanism includes the approval of two thirds of the state Houses of Assembly.” On comments attributed to presidential aides, Ndoma-Egba said: “Abusing an arm of government is not a sign of loyalty; it’s a mark of disloyalty because as I said before, the work of a president in a presidential system of government that is designed with conflict in mind is to persuade. Let me say this and I challenge all of us to go and read the presidential system of government anywhere in the world; a presidential system of government is designed for conflict. It is designed with conflict embedded in it.

It is done that way because it is believed that it is the conflict that will guarantee the checks and balances. So, it is totally immaterial that the president is from the same party as members of the National Assembly.”

“In any presidential system of government, conflict is embedded in the constitution because that is the only way you can check one another. The American government recognises this; that the system is designed for conflict. So, the work of the president is just to be persuading people to his point of view and that is how it is,” he said.

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13 Comments

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  2. PRINCE JIMMY November 2, 2012 at 9:30 am

    WHAT WE NEED NOW IS SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE AND REFERENDUM NOT THIS MANIPULATION CALLED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. TO START WITH, WHAT NIGERIA CALLED CONSTITUTION IS A KORANIC ISLAMIC SHARIAH DECREE DOCUMENT OF HAUSA-FULANI OLIGARCHY. THIS IS A WRITTEN SCRIPT OF SOKOTO CALIPHATE THAT HAVE CONFISCATED THE BIAFRA RESOURCES SINCE THE END OF NIGERIA/BIAFRAN WAR. THIS COLLECTION OF KORANIC DECREES STARTING WITH YAKUBU GOWON TO ABDULSALAMI ABUBUKAR THAT MADE BIAFRAN PEOPLE CONSISTING OF IGBO LAND AND NIGER DELTA SLAVES IN THEIR LAND CANNOT BE A CONSTITUTION. IN SHORT, TO START WITH NIGERIA HAVE NO CONSTITUTION BUT KORANIC DOCUMENT. AMEND THIS ISLAMIC DOCUMENT ONE MILLION TIMES, IT WILL NOT STAND THE TEST OF TIME. A GROUP OF SELF- SERVING LAW BREAKERS WHO CALLED THEMSELVES LAW MAKERS CANNOT IMPOSE AN AMENDED SHARIAH DOCUMENT ON US. IF NIGERIA WANT TO HAVE CONSTITUTION, THEY MUST START FROM SNC AND REFERENDUM WHERE PEOPLE WILL HAVE OPPORTUNITY TO SAY THEIR MIND NOT A SELF SERVING PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER TO CONTINUE IMPOSING KORANIC DOCUMENT ON US. RATHER THAN SOLVING NIGERIA PROBLEMS, THIS DOCUMENT WILL LEAD TO MORE CRISES. FOR NDIGBO, WHAT WE WANT FROM NIGERIA IS REFERENDUM WHERE WE WILL BE ASKED WHAT WE WANT WHETHER BIAFRA REPUBLIC OR NIGERIA. WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO ACCEPT IMPOSITION FROM HAUSA-FULANI OR YORUBA OLIGARCHIES. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. BY 2014, UK WILL BE CONDUCTING REFERENDUM FOR SCOTLAND INDEPENDENCE. THIS IS THE RIGHT THING NOT IMPOSING THINGS ON PEOPLE AND SAYING THAT THAT IS WHAT THAT PEOPLE WANT.

  3. Nwamini uchenna November 2, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I support u my brother, we need to say what we want not what they have for us.

  4. Iykelondon November 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    MAYBE, THIS IS A SUDDEN REALISATION THAT WHAT WE NEED IS A SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE AND NOT A CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEV THAT, IS OPEN TO MANIPULATION BY OUR WICKED, SELFISH AND VISIONLESS POLITICIANS.

  5. Eboigbe Stephen November 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Mark, you shouldn’t be surprised. You can’t amend the constitution without seeking the public’s inputs by the way of a referendum. On NBA’s position I stand.

  6. dona November 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    MARK stop deceiving yourselves , Referendum is the only way

  7. prince lisborn November 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    ACTION PLEASE

  8. Mallam November 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    IGBOS ARE FRUSTRATED VAGABONDS DAY-DREAMING BASTARDS THAT NEED TO PUT THEIR HOMES STRAIGHT B4 THINKING OF BIAFRA OR WHATEVER YOU CALL IT.WE ARE AWARE OF YOUR TACTICS TO BLACK MAIL NIGERIANS BY THREATENING SECESSION TOBE GIVEN PRESIDENTIAL TICKET AS CONDITION TO LIVE AS NIGERIANS BUT NOTHING 4 U OOOOOO,ENO GO WORK…..

  9. ijui November 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    that is good, NBA did what is right. to shock the senate

  10. ijui November 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    NBA continue

  11. OWOLABI November 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Mark should be educated on the importance of constitution review. It is not a forum to rubber stamp his political ambitions. How can there be proper review without a referendum. He should be told that his game is up. The NBA should watch out against the interest of this man called David Mark. They should realize that the whole nation is watching them whether they will fall for the antics of Mark and his mafia or not. Mark should be told that this political dispensation headed by vision less GEJ and supported by David Mark and Co. Nig. ltd can never take us to the promise land. We only pray to God to review our condition in this country.

  12. barrister November 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    remember that, that we’re to pray for those who are ib authority over us. is this public hearing different from Refurandum you preach or if a national soveiring conference is held, is it not this same men & women from our local councils that will represent us? then if you’ve been playing or carrying out your duties diligently kep bad mouthing thr President_for the son of a fool is often one too.

  13. Uche Okafor November 3, 2012 at 1:33 am

    I thought Igbos want the sixth state…how are we going to have it without amending the constitution?

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