Constitution Review: Rivers, Akwa Ibom want people’s constitution, devolution of power
Amaechi Okonkwo, Port Harcourt.
As the on-going public hearing on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution opened in Port Harcourt, Thursday, Rivers and Akwa Ibom state governments have demanded that the Constitution be reviewed to reflect the wishes of the Nigerian people.
They also demanded that devolution of more powers to the State to be included in the Constitution, arguing that the too much powers reside with the centre to the detriment of the states and the general development of the country.
The Attorneys General and Commissioners of Justice of the two States, Zacheaus Adango for Rivers and Uko Idong of Akwa Ibom made the presentation at the South-South zone of the Public Hearing which was held in Port Harcourt.
They argued that there is a general consensus that the 1999 constitution is fatally flawed and does not reflect the wishes and aspirations of the people of the various federating units of the country.
They said that Nigerians need a constitution that is people-oriented and not the current one that was foisted on the nation by the military and has not promoted equity and justice to all sections of the country.
Earlier at a courtesy visit to the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike by the Senate Sub-Committee on constitutional amendment for the South-South zone led by Senator George Sekibo, the Governor emphasized that it is important at this crucial period of the nation’s history, the National Assembly should use the opportunity of the amendment to correct a lot of anomaly in the 1999 Constitution.
He observed that though no constitution can be described as perfect, concerted efforts must be made by the Federal lawmakers to deliver a better constitution for Nigeria.
Governor Wike urged members of the National Assembly from the South-South geopolitical zone to canvass for an upward review of the 13 percent derivation to 50 percent.
He further tasked them to press for the devolution of power, creation of State Police and the strengthening of the federal character principle, saying that the prevailing situation where only persons from certain section of the country are appointed to sensitive positions is unacceptable.
Wike said; “I think this is an opportunity for members of the National Assembly to say they are working for the interest of Nigeria and not for the party they belong. Because at the end of the day, if anything happens to the country, you will all be affected.”
He also called for the creation of additional State in the South East geopolitical zone in order to correct the current imbalance in the six geopolitical zones saying, “there is no way the South East should continue to have only five states. It is very unfair. Since other regions have six states, South East should be made to have six states.”
Chairman of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on amendment of the Constitution which cover Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Cross River, Senator George Sekibo said the National Assembly has virtually completed the first processes of the review of the 1999 constitution.
“The House of Representatives and the Senate alone cannot amend the constitution of the great country. So, we have come to reach out to our people to collate their views, and the inputs they will make in the constitution.
“The constitution actually is supposed to be a law that is made by the people and so, we are here to collate views from major stakeholders in these three states and when we get back to Abuja, we will see how we can harmonize their views and those of other stakeholders already sent to us”, Sekibo submitted.