3 March 2006

Nigeria: Why I Support Constitution Amendment - Mu'azu

Lagos — Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Adamu Mu'azu, has said one of the weaknesses in the 1999 Constitution that makes an amendment necessary is the fact that traditional institutions are left out in the political scheme of things.

Mu'azu who made this observation while receiving a report of the state's Constitution Amendment Committee, said traditional institutions and traditional rulers are the custodians of our culture and have vital roles to play in the running of the polity.

He said that if England, Spain and Belgium, who are well advanced technologically, should have regard for their traditional institutions, there is no reason why Nigeria should not accord its own traditional institutions due respect.

Mu'azu said there is need for the Constitution to assign responsibilities to traditional rulers, and commended the committee for a job well done, adding that a white paper would be prepared based on their recommendation.

He said there was misconception about the committee as regard the third term agenda, which he said has generated bad blood as many people interpreted the review as an attempt to prolong the tenure of the present administration.

"This is not true," he said, pointing out that the present constitution was little more than a codicil of military decrees hurriedly put together.

Earlier in his speech, Chairman of the Committee, Alhaji Sule Katagum, said his committee identified 88 areas in which the Constitution requires amendment.

He said "if these sections are amended, it would create stability in the nation's socio-economic and political development," adding that the National Assembly has placed more emphasis on political issues at the detriment of economic aspects which is just as important to the nation.

Katagum, suggested improvement in the foundation of education and agriculture, which could turn the economy around if given adequate attention.

The committee's report, which was made available to THISDAY, recommended reduction in the number of ministries and ministers at the federal level, stating that the same should apply to states, where the number of commissioners should be reduced to reduce cost.

It also recommended that more power should be given to states and local governments, while the Federal Government should have its powers reduced.

As for the tenure of the president, the committee said the present arrangement of two tenure of four years each should be maintained. This, the committee observed, would ensure stability.

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