Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has charged the newly inaugurated Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution to concentrate on the 4th Alteration Bill and conclusively address it before dealing with other proposals.
Saraki noted that “the 7th National Assembly had done a good job of obtaining national consensus on key challenges to the operation of the constitution and the utilisation of the constitution as the coherent framework for our development as a nation through its work on the 4th Alteration Bill”.
Inaugurating the 36-member committee, chaired by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Abuja last week, he said the current current review is an attempt by the 8th National Assembly to cement and exhaustively conclude the process of the 4th Alteration Bill.
This, he said, is essentially hinged on strengthening our constitutional democracy, entrenching our unity and widening the remit of institutions that enable the implementation of development plan, respect for the Constitution and the observance of the rule of law as our primary objective.
“Having acknowledged the immense work of the 7thNational Assembly under the fourth alteration bill, the Senate expects you to swiftly consolidate the 4thalteration bill for passage as it has already garnered national consensus.
“We expect that within the next few days you will forward the consolidated bill, have itgazetted and forwarded for first reading”, he stressed.
Saraki added, “The Senate expects that a good liaison is forged early enough with the House of Representatives’ Committee on this all important project, with a view to reducing areas of disagreements and conflicts.
“It is equally crucial that all stakeholders’ opinions are fully considered especially the executive”.
Earlier, the committee chairman assured that his members would work assiduously to ensure early completion of the constitution amendment exercise.
Ekweremadu said that although the successful amendment of the 1999 constitution was only recorded in 6th National Assembly, which he also chaired, resulting in the First, Second, and Third Alterations, he believed there were also a lot of insights to draw from all constitution amendment exercises.
He added that the Fourth Alteration Bill, which was not assented to by former President Goodluck Jonathan remained a huge effort in amending the 1999 Constitution in accordance with the wishes of the Nigerian people.
Notable among the key amendments, according to him, were strengthening of the local government administration, removal of presidential assent in constitution amendment, separation of the Office of the Attorney-General from that of the Minister of Justice, creation of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation separate from the Accountant-General of the Federal Government to enhance accountability, financial autonomy for State Assemblies, and provision of 30-day timeline for presidential and governors’ assent to Bills passed by the National and State Assemblies.
Others include empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission to deregister political parties, devolution of more powers to the states, provision of 180-day timeline for the determination of pre-election matters, provision for independent candidacy, and making it mandatory for the President present a State of the Nation address at least once in a year.
The chairman, however, said it had been observed that constitution amendment exercises in election years were always caught in the web of politics and intrigues, assuring that the amendment exercise was one of the top priorities of the 8th Senate.

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