Former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has said that the present challenges of insecurity and poor economy facing Nigeria could have been successfully navigated by the solutions proffered by proposals in the previous constitutional amendments.
Ekweremadu, in a paper titled “2021 Constitution Amendment: The Expectations and Challenges”, delivered at the 2021 Conference of Nigeria Bar Association’s Section on Public Interest and Development Law, SPIDEL, in Ibadan, Oyo State, noted that the country could have been better than the present situation.
The lawmaker, who chaired the Senate Committee on Constitution Amendment in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eight Senate, said although constitution amendment efforts had recorded numerous successful amendments, mainly in the areas of electoral reforms and institution building, the efforts could have yielded more dividends had the Executive assented to several other critical amendments.
Ekweremadu, according to a statement by his Media Adviser, Uche Anichukwu said such proposals, were those pertaining to devolution of powers, state police, fiscal federalism, Local Government reforms, compulsory savings from oil revenues.
He particularly regretted the non-assent to the Fourth Alteration Act 2013, which he said comprised over 26 amendments that could have served as a major step towards constitutional repositioning of Nigeria.
“A mere look at the constitution review exercises over the years would easily reveal a high mortality rate of proposed amendments because most of the issues we are working on today were previously addressed.
“We successfully pulled critical amendments through the National Assembly, and they ratified by State Assemblies. They include amendments to Second Schedule of the Constitution to devolve more powers to the states by reorganizing the Legislative Lists to move Railway, Aviation, Power, Stamp Duty, among others from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List.
“We amended Sections 150, 174, 195, 211, 318, and the Third Schedule to the Constitution to separate Office of the Attorney General of the Federation/State from the Office of Minister/Commissioner for Justice, and this included financial autonomy and security of tenure for the Office of the Attorney-General to insulate it from political control.
“We altered Sections 147 and 192 of the Constitution to provide for timeframe for submission of ministerial nominees, which must also be accompanied with their respective portfolios.
“We amended Section 162 to provide for compulsory savings of a defined percentage of oil revenues for rainy days.
“Unfortunately, these amendments were denied presidential assent. Some of them were again passed in the Eighth Assembly, but still denied presidential assent”, he stated.
He, however, said the current constitution amendment exercise presented the nation yet another opportunity to quickly do the needful.
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