National Assembly: Forces against restructuring hampered constitutional amendment

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Lawmakers in the Green Chambers

We cannot wish the conference report away; that report will be implemented one day. Those opposed to restructuring are merely delaying the progress of this country.

Chief Goddy Uwazurike

THE recent effort by the National Assembly to amend the 1999 Constitution, has been described as grandstanding, as the lawmakers voted to pass bills that suited their interests and in the process failed to do a thorough job.

The former President of Aka Ikenga and a member of the South East delegation to the 2014 National Conference, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, who made this assertion in an interview noted also that “the reason the lawmakers did not do a thorough work is because the anti-confab feeling is still active in the National Assembly.”

Describing the 1999 constitution as a big problem going forward because it throws up so much politics, he said that the pro-restructure elements in the National Assembly should re-strategise in order to be able to summon the numbers to push through the changes they desire.

“Provided they do their homework properly no matter the strategy deployed by any other zones, you can always slip through because when you want something, you must know what to do,” he said.

Tasking the lawmakers, he posed, “if they wanted to do a thorough work, they would have taken the entire draft constitution prepared by the national conference and gone through it line by line. At least that draft constitution was prepared by all the tribes in this country.

“We cannot wish the conference report away; that report will be implemented one day. Those opposed to restructuring are merely delaying the progress of this country.

“Restructuring is an affirmation of the maxim that the only constant thing in life is change. One can only delay change but cannot stop it.”

He said: “The legislators were angry that we were taking over their jobs; but we told them that we were not because we were only giving them our advisory notes. And when the present government said that they were not interested in the conference recommendations, most of them knew that it will be a hard sell to even get there, to study what is so obvious and is before them.

“The conference treated petitions from virtually all parts of Nigeria and for women asking for affirmative action, we voted in favour of at least 35 per cent. Also, the issue of where a woman hails from and where she is married was handled. We tackled the contentious devolution of powers and listed the things that should be delisted from the Exclusive List and transferred to the Legislative List.”

Noting that he was not surprised that the bill on devolution of powers failed the test in the context of the amendment, Uwazurike added that, “devolution of powers is the key to restructuring the country. At the moment Abuja has too much powers and some of these powers encumber the Federal Government rather than enhance its effectiveness. Unbundling will make the government lighter and more effective.

But the major opposition to it would be those who will not welcome the change in revenue allocation that will trail the change. Today, those in power will oppose anything that threatens their position, including restructuring. They are afraid of restructuring.”

 

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