From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review (CRC), Ike Ekweremadu, has promised that best practices in federalism and democracy across the world will be recommended in a fresh constitution that will be unveiled next July.
He spoke during a two-day study tour of The American Federalism by selected members of the committee at the weekend in Washington DC, United States. Ekweremadu, who is also the deputy Senate president, said the study tour had earlier taken some committee members to Canada.
He said they were currently in the USA and India, saying they were being co-sponsored by development partners, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the European Union (EU).
Senator Ekweremadu said the committee embarked on the tour because it needed further information from democracies and federalisms such as those of the US and Canada, which he said were much older than Nigeria’s as well as those at relatively the same level of development with the country such as India and Brazil. “This is a global world; no country can live in isolation, hence problems are easily handled these days because you can easily find examples from places on how they have been able to resolve their own problems.
If you try to be too indigenous and ingenious, the way you do your own, you may be wobbling in the dark; it is important for you to see how others are doing their things and getting better results. “So, that is why it is important for us to study those areas and ensure that we follow the best examples without also losing sight of our local peculiarities,” he said.
The deputy Senate president said the US was a very complex society like Nigeria, saying the question to ask was: “How come that as complex and vast as it is, they are able to secure the territory of America while we are facing dire security challenges.” He regretted that Canada, which remained a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society was able to live together as one while Nigeria had not been able to manage her diversities.
“So, practical experiences on things that are happening there which are not happening in our own clime are the things we need to share with the rest of our colleagues and Nigerians to enable them to make an informed opinion when we start treating the issues,” he emphasized. Meanwhile, the study, which had been described by Ekweremadu as highly resourced and incisive, was facilitated by the International Law Institute, Washington DC and covered critical areas as distribution of powers, fiscal federal, local governments, citizenship rights, legislative drafting in constitution amendment, and the immunity of chief executives.