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JONATHAN SIGNS AMENDED 1999 CONSTITUTION

By NBF News
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THE controversy over whether there is need for a presidential assent before amended portions of the Constitution can become law was laid to rest yesterday evening as President Goodluck Jonathan signed the two amended copies of the 1999 Constitution into law.

The ceremony, held at the conference room of the President's office, was described by Jonathan as 'unique.'

With Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark and Speaker of the House of representatives, Dimeji Bankole by his side, Jonathan signed the two bills into law, congratulating Nigerians because 'from 1999 to date, this is the first time that we concluded amending any part of the 1999 Constitution.'

He remarked: 'We have operated this constitution from then till now and one is quite conversant with some of the provisions that are a bit cumbersome and some that we cannot implement properly. We still have such in the Constitution and we will continue the process of amendment. So, for today, I have to specially thank the leadership of the National Assembly, the Senate President, the Speaker and the principal officers of the National Assembly for their ability to conclude this first phase of the amendment.

'Amending the Constitution is not an easy thing but if you are outside you think it is an ordinary law because you need two-third votes of members of the national assembly and two-third of the states Houses of Assembly. So, it is an enormous task. For us to have reached this level, it means both the National Assembly and the Executive must have been working together.

Even, with the concept of the separation of powers, you cannot separate the parliamentarians from the executives. You can separate the judiciary but the executive and legislative belong to the same political party. So, how can you separate such people? They must work together for the country to move forward.

'Even, with those controversies about signing, we all agree that the laws of the land have to be followed not necessarily for this set of people but for the subsequent generation. The Executive and the Legislative have no problem at all. I know that as we inaugurate the National Assembly this year, one of the first bills from us will be to amend some other parts of the Constitution. We have to do that with the cooperation of Nigerians until we have a Constitution that reflects the aspirations of Nigerians, not the one that was handed to us by the military.'

Mark told journalists at the end of the ceremony that the event showed the 'need for us to really move democracy forward and entrench it. Every democracy will be based on the culture of the people and we are building it up and I think this is the right step for us to do.'

Bankole added: 'We thank God for everything.'