Constitution review: Sanwo-Olu restates calls for Special Status for Lagos

Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday restated the need to grant Special Economic Status to the state owing to its role in the nation and the burdens it bears.

Governor Sanwo-Olu made the call while speaking at the South-West Zonal Public Hearing of the House of Representatives Special Committee on the Review of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, held at Marriott Hotel, Ikeja Lagos.

The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Dr Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, argued that the continuous request for a special status for the state was by no means a selfish one, but actually in the interest of every Nigerian and of Nigeria as a nation as the progress and prosperity of the country were linked to that of Lagos State, adding that the need for this special status had been sufficiently articulated and justified.

“It suffices for me at this point to restate that this request is by no means a selfish one, but one that is actually in the interest of every Nigerian and of Nigeria as a nation. The progress and prosperity of Nigeria is inextricably linked to the progress and prosperity of Lagos State,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Sanwo-Olu, while listing the issues of State Police and Fiscal Federalism as a top priority for the state in the ongoing review process, emphasized that a Special Status for Lagos State must be a concern not only for the people of the state alone but for all Nigerians.

The governor stressed that true democracy was all about the exercise of the sovereign will of the people, expressing the view that the constitutional amendment process would provide Nigerians the opportunity to express their minds on the issues they wanted to see reflected in the nation’s constitution either by way of amendments to existing provisions or entirely new provisions.

“The constitutional amendment process will provide Nigerians the opportunity to express their minds on the issues they want to see reflected in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria either by way of amendments to existing provisions or entirely new provisions. Voices and wishes of the people must always be heard loud and clear, regarding how they are being governed and how they wish to be governed,” the governor said.

House of Representative Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, earlier in his remarks, urged Nigerians to take the ongoing constitutional amendment seriously, assuring that the process of review and amendment would devise the nation a near-perfect constitution that would resolve several issues.

According to the lawmaker, the issues include those having to do with “identity, political structure, human rights, administration of government, resource control, national security and so much else that has fragile our nation and that has hindered our progress and prosperity.”

This was just as he noted that the 1999 Constitution came about as a result of a hurried national compromise that the country entered into two decades ago, to enable the military to vacate the political scene and return back to the barracks, saying It had always been the intention that one day, the National Assembly would have cause to amend this document to give voice to the people’s yearning.

“The 1999 Constitution is as a result of a hurried national compromise that Nigeria entered into two decades ago, just to allow the military to vacate the political scene and return back to the barracks. It has always been our intention that one day as one people we will return to amend this document to give voice to the yearning of the Nigerian people,” Gbajabiamila said.

Similarly, the Deputy Chief Whip and member, House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha noted that the review was part of the efforts of the Lower Chamber to ensure a participatory and inclusive approach in the 9th National Assembly’s Constitution review process.

Onyejeocha added that the Committee issued a call for memoranda and received submissions covering a wide range of issues such as local government autonomy, devolution of powers, indigene and citizenship rights, amongst others.

The Review is currently considering over 30 constitutional alterations bills which border on the following; Electoral matters, Local Government, Judiciary, Fundamental Human Rights, Gender Equity, Increased Participation of Women, Vulnerable Groups in Governance, Immunity, Indigeneship and Residency, Devolution of Power, Strengthening the Independence of Institutions, Traditional Institutions, State and Local Governments Creation and Legislature and Legislative Bureaucracy.

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