Deputy Senate President and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review (CRC), Ike Ekweremadu, has called on Nigerians to take advantage of the on-going Short Message Service (SMS) and online opinion poll in its Constitution review project.
The SMS and online opinion poll, said Ekweremadu, will allow public to participate in the amendment process as well as allow them air their views on critical matters on the state. He made the call in Abuja at the weekend where he reiterated that the SMS is free. Senator Ekweremadu said the opinion poll was in keeping with the promise and commitment of the CRC to allow for citizen participation, inclusivity, and transparency in the review process.
He also emphasised that the major aims of the poll were to “demystify Constitution-making, get more Nigerians involved, and correct the wrong perception of Constitution-making as an elitist affair. “We want to discourage the usual situation where a vocal and privileged few expropriate the voices of the rest of the people, foist their personal opinions and narrow interests on the polity, claiming same to be the views of the people.
“We took cognisance of the appreciable teledensity in the country that makes the GSM service available to an average citizen and thought that we should seize the platform to give the masses yet another novel opportunity beyond the public hearings we conducted at national, zonal and constituency levels to make input into matters that concern them and their posterity.”
Senator Ekweremadu, who expressed satisfaction with the “avalanche of responses from Nigerians” so far, said the SMS voting was “free as the CRC has already prepaid for every text sent to the short code. The system is simple as all Nigerians need to do is to respond to the advertised questions by texting “Yes” or “No” to the short code- 20052- or alternatively visit the Opinion Poll corner on the committee’s website- www.constitutionreviewng.org, cast his or her vote and possibly leave a comment,” he noted. Ekweremadu, who said the results would be analysed and presented to the public, believed that the National Assembly would find such input helpful as they would assist them gauge the pulse of ordinary Nigerians on critical issues at stake.