The Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly has urged the National Assembly to lobby the presidency and the 36 state governors for successful constitution amendments.
The chairman of the Speakers’ forum, Abubakar Suleiman, stated this on Friday in Abuja at the opening of a two-day retreat organised by the National Assembly Joint Committee on Constitution Review. The joint panel had recommended over 50 amendments to the country’s main law book.
Key among the amendments included independent candidacy, diaspora voting, mayoralty status for FCT, power devolution, restriction on formation of political parties, timeframe for submission of ministerial nominees, among others.
For the amendments to sail through, they have to be approved by the two chambers of the National Assembly and not less than two-thirds of the 36 state assemblies.
Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege had, in a remark at the retreat, said that the success of the current exercise largely depends on the support and partnership of state legislators.
Omo-Agege, who also co-chairs the joint committee, said the meeting was to engage the state legislators on the proposed amendments “as distinct and critical partners in constitution alteration.”
He, therefore, urged the state lawmakers to set aside political leanings and other affiliations and abide by standards.
Responding, the state assembly speakers said lobbying the presidency and the governors had become imperative to get the proposed amendments assented to by the President.
Suleiman, who is also the Speaker of Bauchi State House of Assembly, said after engaging Nigerians through public hearings and the Speakers in the review exercise, the National Assembly should carry along with other major stakeholders including Presidency and governors.
“We are particular about the executive arm of government due to past experience in withholding presidential assent and the issue of implementation at the state level. This call is borne out of genuine concern toward the accomplishment of this noble exercise and in consideration of our rigorous efforts and scarce resources committed to the exercise.”
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase said the joint National Assembly committee received and acted on 178 memoranda and 1,980 recommendations submitted by Nigerians.
He said the issues were aggregated into thematic areas and member-sponsored bills in line with people’s aspirations.
“We have aggregated all manners of proposals, sorted them out to meet the constitutional guidelines and criteria and have ultimately harmonized positions after lengthy debates and majority votes on several critical issues,” Wase added.