Participants from Niger, Kwara and Kogi States as well as the Federal Capital (FCT) Abuja, converged on the Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Hall for the Minna centre of the North Central Zone public hearing on Constitutional review.
The two day event aimed at outlining and articulating the position of the zone on some burning issues as regards the unity of the nation, was attended by critical stakeholders and all the Senators representing the participating States and the FCT.
Declaring the event opened, Niger State Governor and Chairman North Central Governors forum, Abubakar Sani Bello expressed that Constitutional review, if well articulated, would guarantee better and inclusive economic growth as well as increase political stability and enhance peaceful coexistence.
The Governor, who was the Chief Host of the event, described the event as a significant one for the nation pointing out that Nigeria has evolved over time and for the country to attain its actual position in the comity of nations, there is need to review emerging issues in the constitution.
He said, in all Federal Systems of government, restructuring is a dynamic process through legislation and other procedures accepted by the citizens as the need arises adding that despite different perception concerning the constitutional review, the unity of Nigeria must remain sacrosanct and that the country is stronger and better as one indivisible nation.
“As the Chairman of North Central Governors’ Forum we’ve had series of meeting on the same subject. I have no doubt in my mind that, at the end of this exercise, justice will be done so that the states of the North Central will enjoy the benefit and full potentials of our democratic system”, he said.
According to the Governor, “we need to consider as a country the nature and type of Constitution we want; in addition to other issues like autonomy for local government, Legislature and Judiciary, we also need to carefully consider the Concurrent and Exclusive Lists; Devolution of Powers and other issues that are cardinal to the survival of the country.”
He enjoined all the participants to take advantage of the opportunity and critically look at the 1999 Constitution with the view to coming out with a workable document that will provide for effective and efficient system of government at all levels.
The Deputy Senate President and Chairman Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, said the Senate has decided to adopt a bottom-top approach by listening to Nigerians first at all the geopolitical zones.
Represented by the Senate Deputy Chief Whip and Niger North Senator, who is also the Sub-committee Chairman of the Constitution Review for North Central Minna centre, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Senator Omo-Agege said that topical issues such as judicial and electoral reforms, local government autonomy and devolution of powers are to be looked into.
“You will agree with me that, if we get these items through constitutional processes of alteration successfully then, our Constitutional Democracy will be set on the right pedestal, and ultimately, Nigeria will take its pride of place among the enviable constitutional democracies in the world”, he said.
He said the constitution review represents a critical phase in our development and advancement as a nation, urging Nigerians to use the opportunity to express their opinions on the fundamental laws to govern them.
He said that the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution is mindful of the reoccurring clamour for constitutional amendment over the years, adding that many have argued that the 1999 constitution is not peoples oriented.
While assuring that the memorandum submitted will be given a critical consideration, the Deputy Senate said the National Assembly have a herculean task to ensure that the people get their constitution as they want it to be.
In their separate remarks, Speakers Niger State House of Assembly, Bawa Wuse and the Deputy Whip, Kwara State Assembly Mr. Jimoh Aliyu Yusuf called for peace, love and unity among Nigerians irrespective of religion, ethnic and political differences so as to keep Nigeria together.
They emphasized that as Nigerians, we must ensure that our behaviours are in tune with our constitution instead of engaging in the the review of our Constitution to suit our situation.
While appreciating the people, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda commended Governor Sani Bello for providing a peaceful platform to host the meeting.