Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Ekweremadu Explains Why Some Amendments Failed During Constitutional Reviews

Deputy Senate President, DSP, Ike Ekweremadu yesterday attributed failure of Nigeria’s quest for a more acceptable constitution to  embedded ethno-sectional interests and considerations.

Ekweremadu, a guest lecturer at this year’s 2015 Annual Lecture of the Faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, UNIZIK, Awka, Anambra State, with a theme: ‘The politics of Constitution Review in Multi-Ethnic Societies’,  regretted that vital amendments, which should have helped to deepen Nigeria’s democratic experience, strengthen equity and justice, and escalate national development  had perished at  the altar of mutual suspicion and narrow elites’ interests masqueraded as ethno-sectional interests.

According to him, “Mutual ethno-sectional and religious suspicions have become so ingrained in our body polity that even the most patriotic and altruistic intentions are almost always interpreted from myopic prisms of such sentiments and interests”.

The DSP who piloted the first set of successful amendments to the 1999 Constitution in the sixth National Assembly, said the last efforts to further alter the constitution were scuttled by vested interests due to mis-perceptions over the attempt to remove presidential assent to constitution amendment bills, set a 30-day timeline for presidential assent to normal bills or indicate refusal of assent, failing which it automatically becomes an Act of the National Assembly in line with the United States presidential system where the president has a grace period of only two weeks.

He also listed, among others, the attempt to separate the Office of the Minister of Justice from that of the Attorney-General, which current merger in a political appointee, he said, leads to abuses and clogs in the wheel of justice.