Don’t expect brand new constitution, Deputy Senate President tells Nigerians

Ahead of the review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has advised Nigerians to perish the thought of a brand new document.

Senator Omo Agege said this when he met with members of Alliance of Nigerian Patriots who paid him a courtesy visit.

The delegation was led by Ambassador Umunna Orjiako.

The Deputy Senate President in his clarification said the parliament was statutorily empowered to carry out amendment of the constitution. He maintained that it has no power to bring forward a new constitution.

Citing sections 8 and 9 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the lawmaker argued that only a piecemeal alteration of the constitution was attainable.

While he assured that it was still feasible to return to the parliamentary system of government as practiced in the First Republic, he called on advocates of a brand new constitution to channel their energy towards the ongoing amendment of the constitution by the Ninth Assembly.

“One of the issues you raised is the replacement of the 1999 Constitution. I am not so sure that we as a parliament have the power to replace the constitution. We can only make amendments. And it is explicit in sections 8 and 9 of the Constitution on how we can do that and the requisite number of votes required.

“I say that because there are some top attorneys in this country, who for some reason, keep saying that we don’t even need any of this, that we should just bring a new constitution. We can’t do that.

“What we are mandated to do by law is to look at those provisions and bring them up-to-date with global best practices, especially to the extent that it tallies with the views of the majority of Nigerians. So we are not in a position to replace this Constitution but we can only amend.

“But, like I said, most of the issues you have raised here, like zones replacing states, that’s another euphemism for going back to the regions. We will look into that if that is what majority of our people want.

“You talked about devolution of powers. The preponderance of views we have received so far is that those 68 items are very wide and need to shed some weight and move them to the Concurrent Legislative List.”

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