Senate Presidency: Mark Formally Declares, Assures Consti. Review Will Go On


ABUJA, May 25, (THEWILL) - President of the Senate, Senator David Mark has formally announced his candidacy for the Senate presidency in the seventh session of the Senate and assured the often skeptical Nigerian public that the constitution review process would continue. He said the lesson the lessons garnered in the exercise so far by the out-going the National Assembly "would serve as a guide in ensuring the completion of the process to make the country’s body of laws people oriented."

In the same vein, the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who chaired the review committee said that “contrary to speculations, the National Assembly is not yet done with the constitution review, saying that the Constitution Review Committee only concentrated on certain urgent areas such as the provisions regulating the electoral system to put them in order in accordance with the popular wish of Nigerians before the 2011 election.”

Senator Mark spoke today at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Legislative Award conferred on the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu for ‘Outstanding Legislative Achievement on Constitutional Matters.’

He acknowledged that the failure of the past National Assembly to amend the constitution was as a result of “the insistence to lump up too many things at the same time which later led to the confusion that was created along the line.”

According to him; “now that the current National Assembly have been able to amend the constitution and having learnt the ropes properly, the incoming legislators will be in a position to continue their legislative exercises to amend the Constitution.

However, who Mark formally declared his intention to contest the office of the Senate President for the 7th session said he would be contesting the position with the current Deputy Senate President in a joint ticket for the presiding positions of the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

“When I indicated my interest to contest for the presidency of the Senate, this time around, I did not hesitate to ask him that he comes again as the Deputy President of the Senate and I believe that with the joint ticket, we will succeed.

“I worked very closely with Senator Ike Ekweremadu from 2003 when he first came into the Senate and I recognize him as a very brilliant young man. He was a committee chairman on and off but he was never discouraged even when he was not in a very important committee or when it appears as if he was not being given a chance he still maintained that calmness.

He is a very courageous person. Anytime he spoke on the floor of the Senate it was obvious he was very conversant with the rules and was a very knowledgeable, articulate and erudite speaker,” Mark said of Ekweremadu.

He praised the NUJ for the awards conferred on members of the National Assembly saying that it goes to show that there is still trust on elected public office holders as well as entrusts more responsibilities on the shoulders of the recipients of the awards.

“When you judge people to be fit and proper in society those people now have an additional responsibility to make sure that their judgment is not wrong.

“Nobody gave us a chance when we said we were going to amend the constitution. In fact, what I was reading and what I was getting from the media by those who talk to the media was that it was a political gimmick, we were just using it to prepare for 2011 election and we told them that was not true.

“When I was elected as Senate President I did say I was going to amend the constitution. The reason was that the military handed over a constitution to us which was not really a constitution by the people for the people.

“In a Democracy for instance, the word with immediate effect will hardly function. There is no meaning at all but with the recent past the word with immediate effect was the norm, everything was with immediate effect so really it will take a while for us to get into the system but we are getting there.”

In his acceptance speech, Senator Ekweremadu said the happiness of members of the Constitution Review Committee is predicated on not just that they were able to break the jinx of Constitution amendment since 1999, but the fact of the impact of the amendment in addition to the Electoral Act amendment that were highly and positively felt in the 2011 general elections. Senator Ekweremadu further said that the National Assembly concentrated on certain urgent areas such as provisions regulating the electoral system to put them in order in accordance with the popular wish of Nigerians before the 2011 election.

“It was in line with our piece-meal approach aimed at getting results and setting precedents since we did not really have any precedents to fall on before now. Therefore, the 7th National Assembly will surely continue from where the 6th Assembly stopped. The National Assembly is very mindful of the desires of Nigerians to further amend the Constitution to address our structural imbalances, the character of our federal system, devolution of powers, as well as the need to reposition the local government system, cub graft, and strengthen the security of lives and property.

“The National Assembly owes it to Nigerians to ensure our democracy is built on the solid rock of strong institutions and legal frameworks that defy those variables that impede our progress as a nation.”