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1999 Constitution overdue for review, says Omo-Agege

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Ovie Omo-Agege

Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, has said the 1999 Constitution is the most criticised, stressing that it is overdue for review.

He said the amendment process was an attempt by the National Assembly to respond to demands within the context of the powers conferred on it by the constitution in a manner that would further strengthen the country’s democracy.

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Speaking with newsmen at a media briefing on the constitution’s amendment in Abuja, yesterday, Omo-Agege, who is Chairman of the Committee on Constitution Review, disclosed that the committee had received over 250 memoranda.

He said: “No doubt, we are all alive to the peculiarities of our constitution. The first is that it is the most enduring constitution in our country since the Independence Constitution of 1960, having lasted 22 years, and still counting. If you consider all the constitutions since the first in 1914 under Lord Frederick Lugard, it is only second to the Hugh Clifford Constitution of 1922-1946.

“The second is that there is perhaps no other constitution that has received as many and diverse criticisms as the 1999 Constitution. These have come from civil society groups, socio-cultural groups, regional organisations, professional bodies, ethnic nationalities, other pressure groups, as well as individuals.”

According to him, the criticisms include issues of adequate representation of the people of Nigeria by the constitution, issues of federalism, devolution of powers, socio-economic rights, liberty for persons and gender equality.

“We must commend the resilience of Nigerians that, despite these protests and agitations, the constitution has lingered. Yet, we must not rest on our oars. Governance is anything but democratic when we fail to be responsive to the sensibilities and aspirations of those who put us in office, as they are actually the ones in power,” he added.

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