The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has urged state Houses of Assembly to consider and pass bills transmitted to them by the National Assembly in the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution.
Gbajabiamila made the appeal in his remarks at the opening of plenary on Tuesday after the National Assembly returned from its two-month annual break.
To amend a clause in the Constitution (two-third or four-fifth) majority of each of the Senate and the House has to approve the amendment after which it will be transmitted to the state Houses of Assembly, where two-third or 24 of the 36 of them have to concur.
The National Assembly had on March 1, 2022, voted on the 68 amendments recommended by the Joint Senate and House of Representatives’ Special Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.
The bills are seeking to amend various parts of the 1999 Constitution.
The National Assembly had on March 29, 2022, transmitted 44 Constitution alteration bills passed by it to the 36 state Houses of Assembly for concurrence.
The Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Amos Ojo, distributed the copies of the bills to clerks of the state Assemblies at a transmission ceremony in Abuja.
On Tuesday, Gbajabiamila pointed out that the lawmakers owe Nigerians a Constitution that they (citizens) can identify with and call their own.
He said, “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria begins with the words ‘we the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolved’. In this 9th Assembly, we pledged to effect changes to the constitution that will give full effect to our people’s aspirations and help achieve our nation’s highest ideals. We promised a Constitution that reflects the future we desire and the potential we aspire to rather than the past from which we emerged. To that end, we considered and passed substantive amendments, which we forwarded to the state legislatures as required by the Constitution.
“Much of what we hope to become as a nation will remain elusive until we have a genuinely democratic constitution. We need a Constitution that addresses once and for all the unsettled questions that continue to divide us, distract from nation-building and hinder our hopes for a more perfect union.
“Therefore, I appeal to our colleagues in the state parliaments and to all the relevant authorities in the states to expedite action on these constitutional amendment bills under the leadership of the Deputy Speaker (Ahmed Wase). We owe it to the Nigerian people to deliver a constitution that speaks to our future and, most importantly, comes from and belongs to ‘we the people.’”
Gbajabiamila had on June 14, 2022, warned that politicking towards the 2023 general elections might frustrate the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution. He, therefore, urged state parliaments to accelerate consideration and passage of the amendment bills transmitted to them by the National Assembly.
He had said, “The Constitution amendment process is still ongoing. We have already sent several constitutional amendment bills to the State Houses of Assembly for consideration. While we cannot dictate the pace of activities in the state legislatures, we must consider the possibility that these proposals are at risk of being forgotten amidst the heightened politicking across the country.
“Therefore, to the extent that we can, there may be a need to coordinate interactions with the state legislatures to ensure timely consideration of the bills. The leadership of the House of Representatives will examine the options we have in this regard and take a decision shortly.”