Members of the House of Representatives have unanimously voted to revisit the devolution of powers in the ongoing constitution amendment.
The lower legislative chamber had earlier voted against power devolution during a clause-by-clause consideration of the report submitted by its constitutional amendment committee just before the lawmakers embarked on recess.
But at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday, Femi Gbajabiamila, House Majority Leader, moved a motion on the necessity to take a second look at the clause on devolution of power following the overwhelming agitations across the country.
In his response, Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, agreed that there was a need to revisit the issue, saying: “Make no mistake, as representatives of the people we have a duty to champion the protection and preservation of the rights of our constituents and peoples.
“Anyone or group who assaults our constitution will not find a partner here because our oath of office repels same.
“But those who stand for justice, fairness and equity will have partners in us because our oath of office compels same. All the arguments about restructuring are, at the end of the day, legislative issues.”
Dogara then put the motion to a voice vote and the lawmakers unanimously voted in the affirmative. A special committee will now be set up by the leadership of the House to liaise with Nigerians at the various geo-political zones to determine the next step to be taken.
Reacting to the development, Epiphany Azinge, former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), said that it was a good thing that the lawmakers decided to revisit the issue, otherwise the country’s unity would have be in serious jeopardy.
“We are happy that the National Assembly is alive to its responsibility, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and they are prepared to do the needful by taking on board those issues that ordinarily many would imagine that they are not prepared to take on board,” Azinge said on Channels Television.
“Devolution, restructuring or whatever you think you want to be achieved, can still be achieved through (constitution) amendment, so it is up to the lawmakers at this point in time to make it their cardinal responsibility, coming fresh from a seven-week vacation, to see how they can go about this.”
Azinge said the allegations of marginalisation against the federal government by various regions of the country cannot and should not be swept under the carpet but should be addressed adequately.
“Also, the fact that we have not really related so strongly in a way and manner that the entire people of this country will come to terms with the fact that the whole primordial sentiments of tribalism should be a thing of the past in this country at this moment,” he said.
“What have we done to achieve the integration that we are talking about? Have we tried as much as possible also to address the issue of residence rights? Why should we still be talking about State of origin? There are so many issues that we need to change and in the process we also ought to change our mindset.”