By; IYOKPO J. EGBODO, Abuja
Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the House of Representatives special ad hoc committee for the review of the 1999 Constitution, Hon. Yussuff Lasun has disclosed that the committee would not be attending to new constitutional amendment bills henceforth.
Dropping the hint in a chat with journalists at a retreat for members of the committee in Abuja yesterday, Lasun who said they were at the final lap of the exercise, noted that it was the expectation of the committee that the 23 bills being considered would be passed within the third year of the current government.
“It is still a long process, but if we maintain our work pace, it is expected that everything would be ready by February/March next year (2018). We are going to make sure that we achieve this within the third year of this government, because we know constitution amendment has a lot of political implications, and we don’t want people to read meanings”, he said.
According to him, the committee decided to carry out the exercise on a bill by bill bases, to avoid the ill fate suffered by the outcome of that done by the seventh assembly, which was vetoed by former President Goodluck Jonathan over issues of procedure, and certain provisions in the document.
“We cannot say the observations of the former president were not genuine. This time, the amendments would be presented bill by bill, and each is to be looked at based on its own merit, so as not to give room for the president to reject all”, the Deputy Speaker explained.
Fielding questions, Lasun admitted that the committee took a look at the National Conference report, and adopted the recommendations “that are reasonable” to be part of the ongoing exercise.
On autonomy for the local governments, the Deputy Speaker said it was a very challenging aspect of the exercise, more because of the way the state Houses of Assembly, which 2/3 ‘yes’ majority vote is required for each amendment to pass, are run. “It is very dicey, but we are still going to push for it”, he submitted.
One of the consultants to the committee, and Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Mr Clement Nwankwo in his remarks commended the choice of the bill by bill approach. “There a lot of contentious issues, so where one passed and the other fails, we would not have a total collapse as it was in the past”, he said.