Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has said that the possibility of creating new states in the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot be ruled out.
Omo-Agege, who also doubles as Chairman of Senate Committee on Constitution Review, however, advised proponents of new states creation to be ready to lobby stakeholders from all the six geo-political zones of the country.
The deputy Senate president spoke while playing host to a delegation from Katagum, Missau and Jama’are Emirates in Bauchi State calling for the creation of Katagum State.
The group was led by a former Head of Service of the Federation and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed.
Omo-Agege, while emphasising the need for lobby for creation of new states to be a reality said “irrespective of my personal views, the views of members of this committee, you will need to do a lot of lobbying.
“No matter what we think as members of this committee about the appropriateness and justness of your cause, I want to plead with you to reach out to our colleagues from all of the geopolitical zones because not one state or geopolitical zone can give you a state. But it is about lobbying. If you do this, there is no reason why you should not be able to pull this through”.
He disclosed that the constitution review panel would harvest from its data bank, stressing that the 2014 Confab Report, El- Rufai panel report of 2018 as well as constitution alteration bills already referred to the committee would enrich its assignment.
“We have a lot of positions taken by various interests to the effect that the Constitution review exercise is not necessary. That what they require is a complete rewrite of the Nigerian Constitution. I am glad that we have, seated before us here today in this delegation, people who are very well read, lettered with sound knowledge of the constitution that the power granted to us as a National Assembly, precisely under Section 9 of the Constitution, is a power to amend provisions of the Constitution and not to rewrite the Constitution”, Omo-Agege said.
He pointed out that the National Assembly is just one out of the many stakeholders involved in the alteration of the national document.
“This is an exercise we take very seriously. This is a serious request. We are going to look into it and give you all of the assistance we can muster. It is not just about the National Assembly. Our job is to lay the foundation before it goes to the other stakeholders,” the committee chairman further stated.
Earlier, leader of the delegation and former SGF, Ahmed, said the call for the creation of Katagum State dated back to 1980s, adding that the Second Senate in 1981 and the 2014 National Conference had already approved the creation of the state.
While affirming his confidence in the Ninth National Assembly, Ahmed declared that the proposed state was economically viable in the areas of agriculture, solid minerals, livestock and water resources adding that when created, the state would bring development closer to the people.
He said: “We are hereby presenting for your kind consideration, the request for the creation of Katagum State out of the current Bauchi State. We are doing so minding the fact that the National Assembly is the only body recognised constitutionally to initiate and create states. Anything outside that will not yield any positive result. Therefore we are reaffirming our confidence in the National Assembly to do the right thing at the right time”.