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CONSTITUTION REVIEW: NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, SPEAKERS MEET TOMORROW

By NBF News
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Following the passage of the revised 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly and the need to fast-track its adoption by the state Houses of Assembly, the National Assembly has scheduled a stakeholders' meeting for tomorrow.

The meeting, according to a statement from the office of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Usman Bayero Nafada, is between the leadership of the National Assembly and 36 state speakers. It is expected that the meeting would fine tune the reviewed Constitution already harmonized by the two chambers of the National Assembly ahead of its adoption by the state Assemblies.

Spokesperson to Nafada, Hammed Bello, said the meeting, holding in Abuja was at the instance of the leadership of the National Assembly to x-ray the merits and highpoints of the harmonized document to facilitate speedy resolution by the 36 state Assemblies.

The amended copy of the Constitution must be adopted by at least two-thirds or 24 states for it to become effective.

While the ad-hoc committees for the Constitution review are of the opinion that unlike other Acts of the National Assembly which are enforceable either after the President gives his assent or he is vetoed by the National Assembly after 30 days when the Act is submitted to him, some members argued that the President's assent is required since the Constitution amendment is also an Act of the National Assembly. That is, however, yet to be decided.

The Senate President, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, the two chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives ad-hoc committees on the review of the Constitution, Ike Ekweremadu and Usman Bayero Nafada, respectively are expected to lead the National Assembly delegation to the meeting, while the 36 state Speakers are to be in attendance.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Muhammed Bello Adoke, is expected to lead the Federal Government delegation to the meeting. As the Chairman of the ad-hoc committee on the review of the Constitution in the House of Representatives, Nafada will present the opening remarks and details of the various stages of the amendment process.

Deputy Senate President, Ekweremadu, who headed the Senate ad-hoc committee, will give full account of the various clauses in the amendment.

Nafada, who confirmed the meeting, said the time between now and the next general election is short, hence, the need for the meeting to fast-track the passage of the amendment to strengthen the democratic process. 'There was the need to conclude the passage of the harmonized Constitution so that the National Assembly can concentrate properly on the resolution of all the issues in the Electoral Act on which work is over 80 percent complete,' he said.