20 October 2017

Nigeria: National Assembly Will Accommodate Restructuring, Devolution of Powers in Constitutional Amendment - Dogara

The National Assembly is taking note of the debate on restructuring and devolution of power with a view to reflecting the consensus on the issues in the Nigerian Constitution.

The Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, stated this on Wednesday when he briefed the Nigerian Governors Forum on the efforts to amend the Nigerian constitution.

Mr. Dogara was invited by the forum to brief the governors on most of the bills being considered in the constitution amendment exercise.

On the governors' request for expansion of the scope of the exercise, he said only the House could take a decision on the matter.

"Though l am the Speaker, l can tell you that l can only speak where majority of our members have agreed upon.

"So it is a bit early for me to conclude. But this is a democracy and in a democracy, the majority matters."

He said the house was aware of the ongoing agitations in the country where some are calling for restructuring or true federalism.

He said it is an issue in the manifesto of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

"It is our feeling as very responsive and responsible representatives of the people to ensure that this debate is done.

"And I agree like I said before that the position of the President that most of the matters and issues should be canvassed at the levels of the National Assembly.

"This is because some of the structural imbalances that we are talking about that need what they call restructuring cannot be corrected just by the stroke of the pen. Some of them are actually embedded in the provisions of the constitution.

"Even by pedestrian description of the function of government, the Executive cannot make laws, they cannot amend the constitution. They can only initiate the process in an Executive bill, but it ultimately revolves within the powers of the legislature.

"So, even the committee that is set up by the APC leadership on true federalism, by the time they conclude their work, most of the issues they come out with will require a kind of tinkering of the constitution.

"So, our feeling is that we should not just close the windows to the yearnings of majority of our people."

He said the house, under his leadership will listen to Nigerians so as to meet the expectations and yearnings of the people

"We will not just amend the constitution for the sake of amending. We will want the exercise to be very impactful. The only way we can get that done is to listen and listen and listen more."

The Zamfara State Governor who is the Chairman of the NGF, Abdulaziz Yari, told State House correspondents at the end of the meeting that the two chambers of the National Assembly would soon harmonise their different versions of the constitutional amendment.

Mr. Yari said the issues of restructuring and devolution of power would be accommodated in the amendment.

"As a follow up to the briefing by Mr. Deputy Senate President, Mr. Speaker briefed us on the version of the House of Representatives on the constitutional amendment and very soon, they will harmonise the two positions.

"As critical stakeholders, they visited us and gave us their input on the other critical areas that are not touched, like the area of restructuring, devolution of power among others. All those are going to be looked into and considered for the betterment of our country."

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