From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Senate yesterday kick-started a further amendment of the 1999 Constitution with a declaration that it would resist any attempt to hijack the process. Besides, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, declared before senators that Nigeria did not need state police at this point in time.
Also, calls for a sovereign national conference echoed at the public hearing yesterday. In his opening remarks at a two-day national public hearing on a fresh amendment of the 1999 Constitution convened by the Senate Committee on Constitution Review (CRC), the Senate president reiterated that the upper legislative chamber would make sure that all views espoused count. Mark said, “let me assure you also that whatever view you espouse here shall ultimately count.
In this most solemn of task, the National Assembly neither harbours any presumptions, hidden agenda, preconceptions, nor an intention to foist a fait accompli. “It is the ultimate synthesis of the desires of the people of Nigeria, analysed and carefully considered in the context of modern realities, that will prevail. What the Senate will certainly resist is any attempt by a vocal minority to tyrannically hijack the process and impose its views on the majority…”
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who also chairs the Senate CRC, recalled the gains of the last amendment and echoed Mark that the committee would not be intimidated from any quarter. “Inflammatory statements and unfounded imputation of motives will only envenom the process and make consensus building difficult, if not impossible.
We must all be willing to give and also to take.” Ekweremadu stated that equity and justice were necessary ingredients if a country wanted to experience peace and shared prosperity.” “Even that which we may be tempted to clutch tightly as our personal, group, sectional and institutional advantages may not necessarily guarantee our happiness and prosperity because the peace and prosperity of a part can best be guaranteed by the peace and prosperity of the whole.
Equity and justice are the parents of peace and unity, just as peace and unity are the springboards of lasting prosperity. “Nigeria is on the march again, continuing from where we stopped in the sixth National Assembly.
This public hearing, therefore, comes as a fulfillment of constitutional and legislative due process aimed at ensuring that the Nigerian people own and drive the process. “It is a continued and strict compliance with the democratic tenets of public participation, inclusivity and transparency as the golden principles in the business of constitution-making, especially one that hopes to stand the test of time. “In line with these principles, we publicised this public hearing extensively in the national dailies as well as the electronic media in the run-up to this exercise to mobilise Nigerians to come forward with their input towards the reengineering of the Nigerian Constitution.