The House of Representatives has commenced a two-day retreat on the review of the 1999 Constitution in Abeokuta, Ogun capital.
The retreat which was organised by the House Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review, has as its theme: “The Imperatives of Constitution Review/Amendment in Nation Building.”
Speaker Yakubu Dogara while declaring the retreat open, called on the committee to be guided by national interest and not parochial, sectional or religious considerations in its assignment.
Represented by the Majority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker advised the committee to consult widely and come up with a constitution that would stand the test of time.
He pointed out that there were areas in the constitution amendment where the 7th National Assembly had secured consensus of the National Assembly as well as approval of the various state Houses of Assembly, asking the committee to take that into consideration.
Chairman of the committee and Deputy Speaker of the House, Yusuf Lasun, noted that the House had been working tirelessly to ensure that the 4th Alteration Bill was given speedy passage.
He added that the retreat would provide the committee an opportunity to consult with stakeholders on the issue.
“Constitution amendment process is a serious matter and oftentimes challenging,” Lasun said.
“Thus, the committee is involving the participation of various stakeholders to make their much-needed contributions.”
According to the deputy speaker, among the issues listed for constitutional review are; same sex marriage, resource control and local government creation. Others are state police, electoral laws and appointment of judges.
He noted that the 7th Assembly had gone an appreciable length in the constitution amendment, adding that the 8th Assembly would rely on the framework laid by the previous Assembly to address unresolved issues.
Lasun said, “Here in Nigeria, several attempts made to amend the constitution have often ended in futility.
“We have decided that the process should commence and fast-tracked to ensure a time passage of the Bill.”
Bola Ajibola, a former Judge of the International Court of Justice, as well as former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice advised the committee to treat their assignment as crucial to the future of the nation.
He called on the committee members to use the instrument of the constitutional amendment to address Nigeria’s ailing economy.
“We have never had it this bad before and we have never been in this situation before,” Ajibola said.
“The constitution needs to be adjusted, amended and corrected in other to fit in and address the drastic situation we have found ourselves.”