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Reps inaugurate panel to review 1999 constitution, set 24-month deadline



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The House of Representatives has inaugurated a 43-member House Special Committee on Constitution Review panel to make amendments to the 1999 Constitution, with a 24-month deadline to submit its report.

While inaugurating the Committee during plenary on Monday, Speaker of the House, Tajudeen Abbas, said the process of amending the 1999 constitution would be “guided by the spirit of transparency, oneness, inclusivity, and national cohesion.”

Abbas assured that the House will work hand-in-hand with the executive arm of government at the federal and state levels to ensure that the process gets the backing of Nigerians as citizens will be engaged at every level.

“The process will be deeply rooted in engaging with the Nigerian people at all levels, including traditional and religious institutions, pressure groups and trade unions, ethnoreligious organisations, the diaspora community, and much more,” Abbas said.

“We intend to harness the inputs of all Nigerians at the level of senatorial districts through open forum public consultations, and digital platforms, ensuring that every voice is heard and considered.”

While addressing the Committee members, Abbas said:

“I urge you to revisit the issue of additional or reserved seats for women across legislative bodies, twinning in joint tickets and conferring citizenship on foreigners married to Nigerian women,” he said.

The Speaker further noted that the review of the constitution would focus more on devolution of powers, state policing, enhancement of fiscal federalism through local government autonomy, further decongesting the exclusive legislative list, recognising and assigning constitutional roles for traditional institutions, as well as promoting inclusivity, particularly greater gender equity and women representation into appointive and elective positions..

“I call on you not to shy away from the complexities and the debates that will arise during this process,” he admonished.

“Instead, let us embrace them as vital components of a vibrant democracy. The discussions and disagreements are not signs of weakness but rather indications of our strength and diversity. They remind us that we are a nation of many voices, each with something valuable to contribute to our collective future,” the Speaker said.

Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee, Hon. Benjamin Kalu who also addressed the members, said the panel would work assiduously to make sure it delivers on its mandate within the time frame.

He assured that in carrying out its mandate, the committee would ensure “that every voice is heard, every perspective is considered, and every citizen is empowered to participate in the shaping of our nation’s future.”

On key areas of concentration of the review, Kalu who is also the Deputy Speaker of the House, said the Committee would focus on the “establishment of state police, state access to mines, increased participation of women in politics, clear specification of the taxes/levies to be collected by each tier of government, and the provision for the office of the Mayor of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”

“It is important to reiterate that we are willing to accommodate more proposals to enhance our Constitution and strengthen our democracy. In addition, we await executive-sponsored bill proposals that reflect issues on the renewed hope agenda of Mr President,“ Kalu emphasized.

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