Constitution Amendment: NASS Should Refund N4b -Group | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Constitution Amendment: NASS Should Refund N4b -Group

Posted: Jun 8, 2015 at 1:14 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ignatius Okorocha, Abuja

A group under the aegis of Friends in the Gap Advocacy Initiative (FGAI), a parliamentary watchdog has challenged the outgoing leadership of the 7th National Assembly to refund an estimated sum of N4billion expended on the fourth alteration of the 1999 constitution for failure to bring the amendment to a conclusive end.

The group in a statement signed by Executive Director, Mr George Oji, argued  that the 7th National Assembly has formally wound down all its legislative activities and adjourned sine die, it follows that the the processes for the fourth alteration of the 1999 Constitution has now died a natural death.

It recalled that the constitution amendment process started way back in 2011, shortly after the pronouncement of the 7th National Assembly and it was not until early this year that the constitution amendment committees of both chambers of the parliament submitted the document to the then President Goodluck Jonathan for his assent.

It noted that it is also history that Jonathan raised about ten objections against the document and subsequently withheld his assent to the amendment.

“One of the very fundamental objections the former President alleged was that contrary to the provisions of section 9 of the constitution, which prescribed absolute majority of 4/5 of National Assembly members and 2/3 of State Assemblies, the National Assembly members used voice vote to approve the constitution alteration.

Subsequently, the then President approached the Supreme Court to compel the lawmakers to refrain from going ahead with the amendment exercise.

Unfortunately, there was no clear statement by the National Assembly to contradict any of the objections raised by Jonathan, safe for resorting to blackmail; threatening to invoke the constitutional veto powers available to them to override the President’s assent.

What was more regrettable was the statement by the leadership of the senate that, “The President had ample opportunities during the series of public hearings to have raised those objections but he failed to do so,” the group noted.

It noted that from available information, this last constitution amendment exercise cost the country about N4 billion.

The group further added:”That members of the National Assembly should be made to refund the N4 billion expended for the constitution amendment exercise because the said amount constitutes Nigerian taxpayers’ money.

In the alternative, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the withholding of the severance allowances for members of the 7th National Assembly.

We believe that if prudently deployed, the said N4 billion will go a very long way in addressing some of the nation’s infrastructural needs or generate sizable employment for the growing number of unemployed Nigerian youths.

It is our position that the failure of the constitution amendment exercise was precipitated by the shoddy, negligent and unserious attitude of the lawmakers.