By Dele Ogbodo
Deputy Senate President and Chairman, Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Ike Ekweremadu, has said that the process of constitution amendment is not the exclusive preserve of the elite, adding that one of the major aims of the recent telendensity and online poll projects were to disabuse the minds of Nigerians that the constitution amendment is an elite affair.
According to him, the purpose of the polls was to get more Nigerians from every strata of the society involved, and to correct the wrong impression that constitution-making or amendment is an elite’s affair.
He therefore called on Nigerians to take advantage of the ongoing Short Message Service (SMS) and online opinion poll in the ongoing constitution review project to air their views on critical matters on the Nigerian state.
Ekweremadu made this known in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, saying that the opinion poll was in keeping with the promise and commitment of the committee to popular participation, inclusivity, and transparency in the ongoing constitution amendment process.
He stated: “We want to discourage the usual situation where a vocal and privileged few expropriate the voices of the rest of the people, foist their personal opinions and narrow interests on the polity, claiming same to be the views of their people.
“We took cognisance of the appreciable teledensity in the country that makes the GSM service available to an average citizen and thought that we should seize the platform to give the Nigerian masses yet another novel opportunity beyond the public hearings we conducted at national, zonal and constituency levels to make inputs into matters that concern both them and their posterity.”
While expressing satisfaction with the avalanche of responses from Nigerians on the project, he explained that so far, the SMS voting was “free as the committee had already prepaid for every text to the short code.”
The system, he added is simple as all Nigerians needed to do is to respond to the advertised questions by texting “Yes” or “No” to the short code- 20052- or alternatively visit the opinion poll corner on the committee’s website-www.constitutionreviewng.org, cast his or her vote and possibly leave a comment,” he added.
The chairman said the results would be subsequently analysed and presented to the public, expressed confidence that members of the National Assembly would find such inputs helpful as it would assist them to gauge the pulse of the ordinary Nigerians on issues at stake.