Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha
By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review has released guidelines for the conduct of the special public hearings scheduled to hold in the 360 Federal Constituencies across the country.
Chairman of the committee and Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, said the public hearing sessions would bring the process of constitution review closer to the people.
Under the guidelines released at the weekend, each of the sessions in the 360 federal constituencies will be organised by an independent steering committee of stakeholders that include the member of the House representing the constituency who will be the facilitator, members of the state Houses of Assembly in the particular Federal Constituency, the local government chairmen within the constituency and one representative of the following organisations in each Federal Constituency, - the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
Others are the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and other student groups, the National Youth Council (NYC) and other youth organisations, the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) and other women organisations, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), and the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE).
Other stakeholders, such as the ethnic nationalities, women, youths, students, town unions, professional organisations, civil society organisations, religious organisations, traditional institutions and political parties are expected to attend the public sessions.
According the guidelines, decisions at the sessions shall be reached by consensus but where that fails, decisions will be reached by voting, and the views of the majority shall prevail. Voting shall be by show of hands or voice vote.
“To ensure that all participants fully understand the issues before voting is conducted, the steering committee shall ensure that each item to be voted on is explained to the people in the language prevalent in the locality.
“A tentative template of the issues to be discussed and voted on at the sessions has been produced by the House of Representatives to serve only as a guide, as each Federal Constituency is free to indicate, in their reports, other issues they consider as requiring amendment or inclusion in the constitution.
“Issues that have been identified in the template include, among others, recognition of the six zonal structure; creation of states; structure, funding and creation of local governments; residency, citizenship and indigeneship question; justiciability of economic and social rights; fiscal provisions; independence of states legislatures and amendments of the exclusive legislative list to devolve more powers to the states.
“Others are fiscal federalism; abolition of States Electoral Commissions; removal of immunity clause; establishment of state police; zoning and power sharing; terms of office of the president and governors, regarding whether they should be for a single term of five, six or seven years or a renewable term of four years; independent candidacy; voting age; improved representation for women; rights of persons with disability; voting rights for Nigerians living in the Diaspora; a unicameral National Assembly; presidential or parliamentary system of government; role for traditional rulers in the constitution and further electoral reforms.
At the end of the sessions, each steering committees shall submit a video recording and written reports of the proceedings of the sessions to the Clerk of the committee on the review of the constitution not later than seven days after the sessions.