Constitution Review: Clamour for Restructuring, Creation of States Top Demands

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•Committee receives 254 memoranda

By Deji Elumoye

The Senate Committee on Constitution Review has analysed the 254 memoranda submitted by the public for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution with many Nigerians canvassing the restructuring of the federation as well as creation of more states and autonomy for the judiciary.

The committee, at the end of a two-day retreat to review and analyse the memoranda in Abuja, said it received a total of 254 memoranda late last year from the public, including groups and organisations.

In a communiqué signed on behalf of the committee by the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, and Lead Consultant to the committee, Mr. Robert Emukpoeruo, it explained that some of the analysed memoranda called for the review of the derivation principles and legislative powers of the federal, state and local governments.

Other key issues in the memoranda analysed include the creation of states and local governments, gender equality and affirmative action, including inclusiveness of women, youth and persons with a disability, granting autonomy to the judiciary, derivation, streamlining of criteria for qualification for participation in elective offices at all levels.

According to the communiqué, some of the recommendations considered at the retreat include making constitutional provision for the allocation of 35 per cent of political positions reserved for female candidates and gender inclusiveness in the constitution.

In one of the presentations at the retreat, the UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Comfort Lamptey, noted the low representation of women in public life, especially in Nigeria’s political sphere, lamenting that Nigeria ranked 185 in the world on women’s participation in governance.

Also speaking at the retreat, the Country Director, National Democratic Institute (NDI), Dr. Stephen Snook, commended the initiative of the National Assembly to review the constitution and urged the committee to pay close attention to issues concerning promoting gender rights, especially in the area of equality and women’s rights.

The 59-man committee, during the retreat, also reviewed and analysed the 2014 National Conference Report, report of the APC ad-hoc Committee on True Federalism and other previous reports on improving the constitution.
The committee, according to the communiqué, at the closing session of the retreat received the specific recommendations from the working groups, which will be elaborated by the technical committee towards producing the final report and bills for the review of the constitution.