Constitution Amendment: State Speakers insist on restructuring, Community Police

The Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria has insisted on restructuring of Nigeria and community police in the on-going amendment to the 1999 Constitution as the National Assembly placed elimination of joint account and local government autonomy on the agenda.

Chairman of the Conference, Abubakar Suleiman who is also the Speaker of Bauchi State House of Assembly, in his remarks at the retreat, urged the National Assembly to carry the Presidency and governors along for the proposals to scale through.

Suleiman, stated this yesterday in Abuja, at a retreat of the Joint Senate/House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committees on the Review of the 1999 Constitution with Speakers of State Assemblies and state Clerks in attendance.

He said that with the challenges of insecurity, it was important for the legislature to address many agitated issues such as restructuring, devolution of powers, community and State Police. “We are being confronted with certain challenges in the country that borders on insecurity, economy, devolution of powers and weak institutions”, he stated.

“The Conference of Speakers subscribes to the call that the review of the Constitution is one of the legislative actions at our disposal that could be explored to address these challenges.

“We, therefore, call on the members of the National Assembly and the State House of Assemblies to take this opportunity of yet another alteration exercise to address many agitated issues such as restructuring, devolution of powers, Community and State Police”.

While appreciating the inclusiveness in the exercise, the chairman called on the National Assembly to endeavour to carry along with other major stakeholders like the Presidency and governors in the on-going exercise.

“We are particular about the Executive arms at both tiers of government due to the previous experience and reluctance or selective considerations for presidential assent by the presidency and challenges of implementation at the State level”.

In his remarks, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, said that the retreat provided an auspicious opportunity to interface with State legislatures as distinct and critical partners in Constitution alteration.

“Surely, and without a doubt, the success of this process largely depends on your support and partnership.

“Going forward, after the passage of the proposals by the national assembly in a fortnight, you will be the pillar on which this work will be anchored.”

Omo-Agege explained that the proposed amendments in the bills set out institutional and legal reforms, which together with sufficient political will, would help to strengthen institutions of governance and provide for accountability and transparency in governance.

On his part, the Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, said “during the first batch of the review exercise, the Committee in the House of Representatives considered 62 bills, out of which 26 were recommended for harmonisation with the Senate.

“Of the 62 Bills, eight were rejected, 25 bills were retained with modifications and the consideration of three Bills were deferred.

“One thing we are sure of is that no one has been left behind. We have aggregated all manners of proposals, sorted them out to meet the constitutional guidelines and criteria and have ultimately harmonised positions after lengthy debates and majority votes on several critical issues.

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