Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review and Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha
By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives Tuesday reiterated its determination to encourage mass participation in the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution.
Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review and Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, stated this in an interview with journalists at the 127th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) taking place in Quebec, Canada.
Ihedioha said the plan by the Constitution Review Committee to hold public sessions in all the 360 federal constituencies was to ensure that no Nigerian, irrespective of class, creed, political affiliation or place of abode was denied the opportunity to make inputs in the process of reshaping the country.
He assured that the peoples’ public sessions will be an all-inclusive consultative meeting and its outcome will reflect the voices of the people at the grassroots.
“Constitution amendment is not a process that should be left in the hands of the political class or a vocal elite that exerts some control over advocacy machineries and that is why the House of Representatives has designed this innovative peoples’ public sessions to provide opportunities for all strata of Nigerians to make inputs into the kind of constitution they want.
“For the first time, we are directly taking the constitution amendment to the doorsteps of the Nigerian people, going beyond the usual zonal hearings that gets hijacked by a self-acclaimed elite endowed with the means to manipulate public opinion. The sessions will be no-holds barred, non-partisan and broad-based as the National Assembly would not impose a ceiling on the range of amendments sought by Nigerians,” he said.
Ihedioha assured all stakeholders of the willingness of the House of Representatives to approach issues recommended for amendment with an open mind so long as the end results truly reflect the desire of Nigerians for equity, justice and fair play.
He enjoined Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the consultative sessions scheduled to hold on November 10 to make the constitution a truly people’s document.
Speaking on the theme of the Special Debate at the IPU conference tagged: “Citizenship, Identity, Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in a Globalised World,” Ihedioha said it re-echoes the fundamental challenges Nigeria has faced with respect to issues like the indigeneship controversy, state creation and structure of government.
According to him, these thorny national questions could be resolved through the ongoing constitution amendment being championed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.