The President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, yesterday assured Nigerians that the National Assembly will not preclude any section of the 1999 Constitution as altered from being considered for amendment in the review process scheduled to take off next week in the six geopolitical zones.
He appealed to Nigerians dissatisfied with 1999 Constitution to present their observations and propositions at a two-day public hearing next week in their zones as the National Assembly has no predetermined stand on any issue that could demand its review.
He gave the assurance at plenary after reading a letter from the Chairman of the Senate Constitution Review Committee, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, to announce the chairmanship composition to oversee the two-day public hearing on proposals to alter the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
According to him, the review will avail Nigerians the opportunity to make submissions on any issue of interest, adding that the National Assembly on its part, will prioritise such issues to enhance the welfare and security of citizens.
In an apparent move to douse tension generated by his opposition to Southern governors’ demand for restructuring, Lawan said the National Assembly holds no predetermined position on any issue of interest to Nigerians ahead of moves to amend the 1999 Constitution.
He said: “This is a very important exercise for our country, and I’ll take this opportunity to appeal to all Nigerians who have one issue or the other that they think the constitution review of the Senate should know and take note and address.
“It’s an opportunity to go to the centre nearest to you. We are open, we are plain; we don’t have any preconceived or predetermined position on anything.
“The numerous issues that Nigerians feel should be addressed to make Nigeria better, to make citizens secured, and enhance the welfare of our people are topmost in our consideration.”
Lawan announced the suspension of Senate plenary next week, saying “because of this so important assignment, by this very important committee of the Senate, the Senate will suspend plenary throughout next week.
“This is to enable not only the committee members but the rest of us who are not even members of the Constitution Review Committee to participate in the exercise.
“We wish our committee on the review of the constitution the best of outing, and Nigerians should take every possible opportunity to be there to present whatever they feel strongly about how this country could be better. [And] we are welcoming every suggestion and issue.”
According to him, the zonal public hearing is scheduled to hold in two centres in each of the six geopolitical zones.
In the North-central, the Jos centre will cater for Plateau, Nasarawa and Benue States, and will be chaired by Senator Abdullahi Adamu. The Minna Centre will cover Niger, Kwara, Kogi and FCT with Senator Abdullahi Aliyu as chairman.
The North-east is split into Bauchi Centre (Bauchi, Yobe and Borno) and Gombe Centre (Gombe, Taraba and Adamawa) with Senators Abubakar Kyari and Danjuma Goje respectively as chairmen.
In the North-west, the Kaduna Centre, which covers Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa and Katsina States, has as its Chairman, Senator Kabiru Gaya, while the Sokoto Centre covering Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States, will be chaired by Senator Muhammed Aliero.
Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is to chair the Owerri Centre which covers Imo and Abia States, while the second centre in Enugu to cover Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra States, all in the South-east will be chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
In the South-south, the Asaba Centre, which caters for Delta, Edo and Bayelsa States, has as its Chairman, Senator James Manager. The Port Harcourt Centre, covering Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom States will be chaired by Senator Betty Apiafi.
The South-west zone has the Lagos Centre (to cover Lagos, Oyo and Ogun States), and the Akure Centre, which caters for Ondo, Osun and Ekiti States and will be chaired by Senators Oluremi Tinubu and Ajayi Boroffice respectively.