Only the passage of the Electoral Bill to reform and reposition Nigeria’s electoral system will restore the confidence of the Nigerian people on the 9th National Assembly and demonstrate its sincerity with the constitutional review by first passing the pending Electoral Bill.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, started this while hosting members of the Special House of Representatives Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution for the South-south states, who paid a courtesy visit to his office after the second day of the public hearing for Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states in Uyo.
The Governor said the Electoral Bill was a yearning of the people that must be prioritized and called on the Legislative and Executive arms of the federal government to expedite actions to bring the bill alive. This, he added, will remedy the seeming apathy on Nigerians towards the constitution review process.
He commended the Speaker of the ninth Assembly for the relative harmony in the House of Representatives and the qualitative selection of Member to pilot the review process in the South-south, expressing hope that the representations of the people will not be ignored.
In his words, “As we are working on the Constitution review, Nigerians will want to see the sincerity of the National Assembly. …If you want us to believe this exercise, give us the Electoral Bill as soon as possible and let the Executive sign it into Law, then we will believe that this one will also see the light of day”.
According to him, as important as the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was, the most important and urgent at the moment is the Electoral Bill, then the PIB, while, while the Constitution Review comes third in the order of priority, as he called on the red and green chambers of the National Assembly to consider the plea as the yearning of over 200 million Nigerians.
Governor Emmanuel said the efforts to contain the agitating people in the South-south region would not be necessary if the federal government could avoid some outright violations of the laws governing the running of its institutions in the region, stressing the need to regain the confidence of people in the government.
“We can’t enjoy peace as a country if we can’t even obey the simple rule of law we put in place. We need to build back hope and confidence in our people; we need to let people know that we do listen to them”, he added.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Special Committee on Constitutional Review and leader of the delegation, Hon. Gideon Gwani, who is the Minority Whip, and member representing Kaura Federal Constituency of Kaduna State in the House of Representatives, thanked Governor Emmanuel for the warm reception and hospitality accorded his team, while lauding the exceptional service of the state owned airline, Ibom Air and other developmental efforts of the state government.
Hon. Gwani, said that the Special Committee on Constitutional Review became necessary to address the challenges confronting the nation especially insecurity, charting a course towards a new constitution that will guarantee fundamental freedom of Nigerians.
“Nigeria is a great country, but currently we are going through challenging times, we are battling insecurity dwindling economy and the resurgence of fear of ethnic domination which led our country to a civil war several years ago, which have continued to plague every aspect of our national life. As a nation we need to take a pause and also appraise our terms of social contract, our mode and system of government and the only way to legally respond to those calls is via constitutional amendment”, he said.