Opinion & ViewsPolitics & Governance

Why Nigeria cannot have a new constitution – Dep. Senate President

The Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ovie Omo Agege says that Nigerian cannot achieve the total rewrite of the 1999 constitution as clamoured for because of a provision of the constitution.

Sen. Omo-Agege, representing the Delta Central Senatorial District, who spoke as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme as monitored by RovingNaija, said that the framers of the constitution did not envisage a total change of the constitution.

He spoke after the completion of the Public Hearing on the Constitution Amendment in the Country.

“According to Section Nine of the 1999 constitution, Nigerians do not have the power to change the constitution; the country only has the power to alter some sections of the constitution.

“In order to achieve a total rewrite, the Constitution makes provision for a four-fifth of the votes of members of the National Assembly who are the elected representatives of the people.

“This is very difficult to achieve and that will explain why for instance, we have received more than 350 memoranda on the amendment of the Constitution but not a single memorandum for a rewrite of the same Constitution.

The Senator explained that periodic alteration of the constitution in line with the current Constitution amendment process is capable of achieving the objectives desired in a total rewriting of the Constitution.

“We only thing we are permitted to do is incremental alteration and not total alteration or rewrite of the constitution.

“Even the United States has never thought of jettisoning its Constitution for a new one. Instead, the country (US) engages in periodic Constitution Amendments to strengthen its Federal system.

He however explained that the challenges notwithstanding, Nigerians are still capable of achieving a total overhauling or rewriting of the Constitution through a legal procedure.

“Those who are calling for a new Constitution should go back home and mount pressure on their elected representatives. This is the only way to change the Constitution which is the only operative legal document of the country.

“There is nothing in the constitution that can not be amended so you can tweak the constitution through an amendment process that is in the interest of the country.

Sen. Omo-Agege revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari is willing and ready to assent to any amendment of the Constitution that is in the interest of Nigerians and the country’s unity.

“Mr. president wants the very best for the country and he will assent to any bill that emanates from the process and preserves the unity of the country,” he said.

On the issue of running a unicameral legislature on account of the share expensiveness of the bi-cameral system practiced by the country, he noted that the Senate is open to any amendment by Nigerians.

“The constitution amendment is not about us, it is about Nigerians and what they want. There is only one way of doing that, mobilise and talk to your elected representatives.

“This constitution amendment will produce a peoples’ alteration as against a foisted alternation as Nigerians have labeled some previous amendments to the constitution,” he said.

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