Stakeholders parley in Plateau on constitution review

Senate President Bukola Saraki (left) and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara

A technical session for civil society organizations and the media on the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution has opened in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

The Convener, Peter Iorapuu of the Centre for Healthcare and Economic  Empowerment for Women and Youth (CHCEEWY) said that the session was in collaboration with the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), aimed at taking a critical look at the ongoing debate on the constitutional amendments.

He added that the session was to identify areas that could be beneficial to the people and come out with a plan that would engage other stakeholders, for implementation.

The National Assembly has since December 2016 constituted ad-hoc committees to initiate the process of amending relevant sections of the constitution based on the wishes and aspirations of various stakeholders and their representatives.

The committees have decided to limit their focus to the issues contained in the 4th alteration that was passed by the NASS and the State Houses of Assembly (SHoAs) but not assented by President Goodluck Jonathan over some items he had reservations with.

The former President had questioned the process adopted by the NASS which he felt did not meet the requirement of section 9 (2) of the Constitution.

At the moment, both Houses have passed some of the recommendations proposed by the Committees while others were rejected.

About 21 bills seeking the amendment to different sections of the Constitution have been passed and awaiting transmission to the State Houses of Assembly for their approval.

For each item/clause to be successfully amended, it will require a simple majority in at least 24 out of the 36 state Houses of Assembly. While the state Assemblies have the constitutional mandate to vote on the amendments, it is expected that they will consult with their various constituents before casting their votes in line with the wishes of those they represent.

Giving an overview  Mr Edwin Onoja said the session was to seek citizens’ input on the amendment to further deliberate on the way forward for government policies on the citizens.

Areas deliberated upon include the  Strengthening of Local Government, which seeks to annul the State Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) and empower each Local Government Council (LGC) to maintain its own special account through which their funds will be paid directly from the federation account.

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