EditorialTHEWILL EDITORIAL: Another Long Process To Reviewing 1999 Constitution Begins

THEWILL EDITORIAL: Another Long Process To Reviewing 1999 Constitution Begins


February 18, (THEWILL) – Another long process to reviewing the 1999 Constitution begins on Monday, 20 February 2024, with the scheduled inauguration of the committee saddled with the task. For the sixth time since the return of democracy to the country in 1999, the National Assembly will try, once again, to tinker with the Constitution in a bid to make it work for the true federalism that most Nigerians have been clamouring for.

Major areas to be considered this time include state police, artificial intelligence, governance structure, financial autonomy for local government councils, judicial and electoral reform, Diaspora voting and cost of governance. The committee will also beam a searchlight into some of the responsibilities of government from the exclusive to the concurrent lists in a bid to achieving what is expected of true federalism.

One major area that will however be knotty for the committee is the determination of the structure of governance and the need to consider the opinions of a section of the populace that the “the parliamentary system is better and cheaper for Nigeria” while ”the presidential system is very costly, especially with the current economic situation in the country.”

Another area of importance is the unending call for the country to be restructured as advocates believe that Nigeria’s socio-political problem “goes beyond the system of government being run” but ”weighs more heavily on the structure.”

According to the advocates of restructuring, ”Any tinkering with the constitution that fails to tinker with the present structure would be cosmetic.”

Although previous attempts to review the constitution tried to address some of the controversial issues and brought some innovations, the general belief is that the constitution, in its present state, is not really serving the full interests of Nigerians and it has to be reviewed further.

Recent challenges, especially bordering on the prevailing general insecurity, for instance, have placed the idea of state policing on the front burner and one major task for the review committee.

Already, some state governors at a recent meeting with President Bola Tinubu agreed that state/community policing is an idea whose time has come as it will help to solve the general insecurity challenges facing the country. The constitution review committee may have no other choice than to properly look into the modalities for achieving this and at the same time, make provisions to prevent usurpation and abuse.

We are glad that just as many Nigerians are worried about the prevailing security challenges, the National Assembly is also showing a lot of concern. The deputy spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Philip Agbese, actually confirmed the overwhelming support of the National Assembly to the constitution review, especially as it concerns security, even as about 40 proposals have been received so far from Nigerians.

“When we resumed from the last recess, the Speaker mentioned the issue of security, saying that it must be tackled as long as the country is concerned. Expressing regret that at present farmers are unable to go to farm, he gave the assurance that the lawmakers would all play their part to end this crisis by rejigging the security architecture to guarantee the safety of lives and property in this country,” Agbese said.

We also want to agree with the Deputy Speaker of the House, Benjamin Kalu, who also heads the House Constitution Review Committee, that it is now mandatory for the National Assembly to embark on this latest round of amendment because of the pressure from Nigerians mainly due to the prevailing social and economic challenges in the country.

Kalu said, “We are well aware of our present challenging circumstances as a nation. The twin challenges of insecurity and economic difficulties could tamper with the confidence of our citizens. It is therefore our constitutional responsibility to respond to the 40 bills so far proposed and also to attend to the duty of government to ensure the security and welfare of the citizens as provided by the Constitution.”

As another long process to achieving the desired provisions therefore begins, we hope the National assembly members would throw all the needed support for this exercise this time and mobilise their constituents to also play their part even as the deadline for the new process has been put at December 2025.

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