Constitution Amendment Suffers Set Back As States Fail To Submit Resolution

Listen to article

ABUJA, July 08, (THEWILL) - The amendment of the 1999 Constitution suffered a major set back today as speakers of the 36 State Assemblies failed to submit their resolutions on the harmonized copy transmitted to them by both chambers of the parliament.

The National Assembly had on June 15 forwarded the first amended Constitution to the State Houses of Assembly while today was fixed for the receipt of their resolutions on the document to the National Assembly.

But Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria and Speaker of Taraba State House of Assembly Hon. Haruna Istifanus Gbana, who announced the inability of his colleagues to turn in their resolution at the National Assembly yesterday however promised that the resolutions will be transmitted by July 19.

Gbana who announced this at a well attended ceremony graced by the Senate President, Mr. David Mark, and the entire leadership of the National Assembly appealed to the leadership of National Assembly and Nigerians to give them time to tidy up while attributing the delay to the different procedures adopted by the various state Assemblies for the adoption of the harmonized amendment.

The chairman noted that the presentation has been rescheduled to the 19th July to enable all State Assemblies submit their resolutions for onward transmission to the National Assembly.

"The next presentation, we have agreed that it will be next week. Other state Assemblies have not concluded, so after next week as from 19th of this month, we intend to come back to the National Assembly and transmit the resolutions that are ready. If other states are not prepared with their own, that is our final decision’, he assured.

According to him, the failure of some states to complete work on the harmonized version was not deliberate but "basically, I think some of the things I can say for now are the procedure that was adopted for the passage of the resolution, it differs. Some states organized public hearings, others adopted the same procedure for bills before the House and you know these two procedures are not the same.

"The other will consume more time and I believe that was why other states could not meet up; but that does not mean they have not started anything towards the passage of the resolution," the Speaker said.

Hon. Gbana explained that the timing of the transmission to the state Assemblies by the National Assembly also contributed to the delay in endorsing the document by some states. "Secondly, by the time National Assembly transmitted the harmonized copy to the state Assemblies, some of our colleagues were on recess and they had to reconvene immediately and start the procedure that is why we have this delay."

It was however clear from the onset that all was not well with the planned presentation of the resolutions as the occasion earlier scheduled to hold at one o’clock in the afternoon did not start until about 1.40pm when the Senate President sauntered into the Conference Hall of the House of Representatives accompanied by Speaker Dimeji Bankole and other principal officers of both chambers.

After the national anthem was sung, consultation began and at about 1.43 pm, there was power outage in the hall that lasted for a minute and a half. However, when power was restored, the Senate President in company of Speaker Bankole, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and Deputy Speaker, Usman Bayero Nafada walked out of the hall unannounced.

However when the principal officers returned at 2.02 pm, the gathering was called to order and the Chairman of Conference of State Speakers, Hon. Gbana was called upon to make a presentation. But as those present were expecting the presentation, the Chairman rather began with an apology. "I stand before you on behalf of my colleagues to symbolically transmit the resolution of the 36 state Assemblies in the country. However, I deeply regret that we have been waiting for some of our colleagues from other states but to no avail. That is to say that we are not likely and we are not in apposition to present the resolution today…"

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who is also Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution while responding to the apology from the Chairman Conference of Speakers said the National Assembly sympathized with the State Assemblies and expressed the hope that they will keep the promise in two weeks time.

Most Nigerians who thronged the National Assembly to witness the occasion left dejected and frustrated.