HURIWA TO NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: Stop wasting money on Constitution Amendments

Make a law stopping amendment of the constitution after 2027

Oru Leonard 

Foremost Civil Society group: Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has criticised the National Assembly for devaluing the essence of the Nigerian Constitution by always subjecting it to amendments by all the sessions of the previous and current national legislatures.

In a press statement signed by Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, National Coordinator HURIWA, said constitution amendments is not the regular mandates of the National Assembly because the national legislature has its job cut out for it including the massive tasks of providing oversight supervision to ministries and agencies of government, making lesser legislations to aid the government in providing good governance. The Nigerian Constitution just like the USA constitution should be a tested, trusted and long lasting democratic heritage that shouldn’t be devalued unnecessary through vexatious and frequent amendments.

The Rights group which stated that the frequent amendments to the Nigerian constitution has remained one of the items that brings international opprobrium to Nigeria given that democracies Worldwide do not amend their national constitutions whimsically, said it would be necessary that Nigeria does not make the Nigerian Constitution a money making gambit but should ensure that since we borrowed aspects of our presidential system from the USA, the constitution should stand the test of time and be timeless.

Vexed by the simplistic underrating of the national constitution by law makers and for the obvious fact that members of each sessions of the national legislature since 1999 have often seen constitutional amendment as a ‘trading commodity’ whereby the committee members share generous sitting allowances and gallivant all over the nooks and crannies of the nation at massive expenses to Nigeria, HURIWA has called for an end to this legislative charade.

HURIWA is hereby proposing a legislation to halt the amendments of the constitution after the on-going amendment by the 10th session of the National Assembly. HURIWA said a provision be included in the yet to be amended version of the extant constitution, to stop further amendments once the ongoing amendment by the 10th session of the National Assembly is over before 2027.

The HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA through the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko regretted that the federal parliament had from the 5th to the current 10th National Assembly made several attempts to amend some provisions of the 1999 Constitution to no avail.

“It is generally observed by Nigerians that at every session, the parliament officially spends N1 billion shared equally between the Senate and the House of Representatives. However, the media stated that there are reports that the lawmakers spend more than what is appropriated for the exercise.

HURIWA Condemns the legislators for doing very tardy and substandard amendments deliberately to prolong and turn constitutional amendments into a juicy assignments for all the sessions of the National Assembly because it is inconceivable why some amendments were successful in the past, but due to poor legislative drafting, several others suffered serial failures but kept appearing in new proposals.

“HURIWA believes that considering the huge spending, it is therefore criminal that no significant amendments could be said to have been made to address the yearnings of Nigerians. We note with regret that the first attempt at amending the 1999 Constitution failed woefully in the 5th National Assembly under the chairmanship of former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu and Deputy Speaker Austin Okpara”.

“Understandably, the ill-fated exercise failed when an attempt was made to smuggle the purported third term agenda of then President Olusegun Obasanjo, when the lawmakers discovered that a clause to that effect was allegedly inserted into the document. The bill was roundly rejected. The second attempt to review the constitution in the 6th Assembly under the chairmanship of Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Representative Usman Bayero Nafada was said to be successful as some sections were amended. These included the financial autonomy of the National Assembly, which gave it the power to draw its funds directly from the federation account, otherwise known as the first-line charge.

“HURIWA notes that in the 7th and 8th assemblies, the constitution review exercise was a mixed bag of successful and failed amendment attempts. As observed by some media experts, the chief among the failed attempts was the provision stripping the president of the power to sign the constitution amendments, which is required for them to become law. Then President Goodluck Jonathan’s government argued that the legislature overreached itself in seeking to abridge presidential power, especially the power to “check and balance” the lawmakers”.

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