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N'ASSEMBLY HAS NO POWER TO CREATE NEW CONSTITUTION -REPS MINORITY LEADER

By NBF News

Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has stated that the powers of the National Assembly as regards the agitations on the nation's constitution, stops at amending the present one, saying only Nigerians can write a new constitution for themselves.

Gbajabiamila, who was speaking as guest lecturer at the first Annual Rev. Dr. Rufus Okikiola Ositelu Colloquium said the sovereignty rested with Nigerians, if what they sought was the writing of an entirely new constitution.

According to him, 'if what we are looking for is to make adjustments here and there in the existing constitution, I make bold to say that it's only the National Assembly that can do it; that is the mandate that was given to the National Assembly but if what we are asking for is a brand new constitution to be written all over again I make bold to say again and I've told my colleagues, it is not in our purview. We have no business or no power to make any new constitution, sovereignty belongs to the people.'

The Surulere Federal Constituency representative who delivered a lecture on the topic, 'Fiscal Federalism is Possible: The Nigerian Context' urged the National Assembly to respect the mandate given to them by the people to represent them, however, saying if the consensus by Nigerians was to have a constituted assembly to write a new constitution, the National Assembly should not stand against it.

'My mandate, which I sought during the elections did not include writing a new constitution; it is the people that will write their own constitution and in writing the constitution, either way it goes, whether writing a new one or amending it, what is fundamental is that the structure has to change,' he stressed.

He also blamed the present security challenge on the faulty federal structure, saying the nation would continue to battle with social and political issues if the current political structure was not amended to represent true federalism.

'If we do not want the labour of our heroes to die in vain, it is time for us to begin to practice true federalism. Shrinking of the government at the centre is paramount. Our constitution has to be based on equity and fairness and these two find roots in fiscal federal,' Gbajabiamila added.

On his part, Rev. Ositelu stressed that fiscal federalism was indeed the strength and consolation in a multi-lingua, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like Nigeria, saying the lack of it would only breed disaster.

He proposed a revenue sharing formula, which would see the 36 states take a lion's share of 54 percent, the 774 local governments getting 22 percent, 20 percent for the Federal Government and four percent for special funding.