From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Senate Committee on Constitution Review (CRC) has cancelled the Internet-based opinion poll on autonomy of local governments in the 1999 Constitution, less than 48 hours after governors of the 36 states vowed to oppose it.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi had argued that the local government system could not be considered as a federating unit. Granting autonomy to such a tier of government, the NGF further argued, was illegal as it was alien to the Constitution.
A statement issued by Innocent Mebiri, clerk to the Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led CRC, said the committee had cancelled the opinion poll till further notice, adding that it was doing so because some unscrupulous citizens had introduced alien issues not on the constitution amendment agenda.
“The Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution has cancelled the ongoing opinion poll on the autonomy of the local government. “This has been necessitated by the need to preserve the integrity and credibility of the process as there are attempts by some unpatriotic elements to manipulate the ongoing SMS and online opinion poll on key issues in the present constitution amendment project.
“There is currently a text message circulating around the country which claims that the Senate is presently voting on a Bill aimed at carving out some large portions of land in certain parts of the country as grazing reserves for the Fulani.
The text message therefore invites Nigerians to send ‘NO’ response to 20052 which is the same short code being used by the committee to poll the opinion of Nigerians on issues in the constitution review.
“The committee condemns this action in its entirety and calls on Nigerians to disregard such as it is a devious propaganda to manoeuvre the outcome of the efforts of the committee to ensure popular participation by Nigerians in the constitution amendment project. “The short code is entirely dedicated by the committee to polling the opinion of Nigerians on constitution amendment issues and has absolutely nothing to do with grazing reserves.
“While the cancellation of this voting on this particular subject of local government autonomy is regrettable, the opinion poll will resume in earnest.”