25th May, 2021
Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution
National Assembly Complex
P. M. B. 141, Garki
THE PROPOSED ALTERATION TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
- The Berom nation under the auspices of Berom Educational and Cultural Organization (BECO) appreciates the 9th Senate for giving us the opportunity to present our views on the intended amendment of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
- We have observed with great concern that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended contains serious fundamental deficiencies which alteration alone cannot correct. Our position is that a new Constitution should be written to replace the current one.
We, therefore, urge the National Assembly to quickly convoke a national dialogue to be attended by the representatives of all Nigerian ethnic nationalities to dialogue on the terms of their union with one another in the country called Nigeria. This should be done immediately and well before the commencement of electioneering activities towards the 2023 elections.
- Below are some of the many shortcomings of the current 1999 Constitution:
- It was promulgated by a Military Decree only and not by an act of the National Assembly. Now that the Military Government is dead and gone, the 1999 Constitution has long ceased to be a valid document.
- It was not subjected to a national referendum and so it does not contain the wishes of the people of Nigeria.
- It was written by a few selected Nigerians who did not fairly represent all the people of Nigeria.
- It does not provide for State Constitutions in order to create a true federation of constitutions.
- It was kept a secret till after all inaugurations in 1999 because of these difficiencies.
- It was not printed by Government printer of the day as stipulated in Decree 24 of 1999.
- It takes care of only one religion in S.275 – 279 & neglects all others whereas Nigeria is a multi-religious society.
- It over centralized governance thus creating administrative bottlenecks and inefficiency.
- The Exclusive Legislative List is overloaded to the detriment of States and citizens.
- It created a Unitary Government, not a Federal Govt.
- The preamble that says, “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria …” is a false claim because majority of Nigerians were not involved in the process of making it.
- Section 10, which bans all Governments from adopting a State religion, is contradicted by the provisions of Sections 275 – 279 which fully provides for Islam, Sharia Courts, Muslims, Khadis and Grand-Khadis.
- It has an ambiguous definition of adulthood in Section 29(a) & (b).
- Section 315, which makes 4 ordinary laws part-and-parcel of the 1999 Constitution is unnecessary and should be expunged completely.
- It provides for only one Police Force unlike other large federations.
- The citizenship rights listed in Chapter 2 are not justiceable.
- However, without prejudice to our position that we are opposed to the retention of the present Constitution for the reason stated above and many more, we hereby submit our position with respect to the areas that the Senate is proposing for amendment:
- GENDER EQUALITY:
The Berom nation supports any legislative steps to enhance the rights of women.
- FEDERAL STRUCTURE & POWER DEVOLUTION:
- Review the Legislative Lists and significantly reduce the Exclusive List and add the removed items to the Concurrent List in line with the principles of federalism, with more powers given to the federating units.
- “Indivisibility & indissolubility” in S.2(2) and 3(1-5) amount to a violation of citizens’ fundamental human rights to freedom of association, dissociation and choice.
- LG ADMINISTRATION/AUTONOMY:
We prefer that LGs be expunged from the Constitution and States to be allowed to develop themselves as they wish. But if LGs must be retained, then they should be granted full financial autonomy.
- PUBLIC REVENUE, FISCAL FEDERALISM & REVIEW OF ERVENUE ALLOCATION FORMULA:
- We support resource control by the federating units.
- We support reviewing the Revenue Sharing Formula in favour of States.
- ESTABLISHMENT OF STATE POLICE:
We support the establishment of State Police, LG Police and even Community Police by organizations that can handle them like the Universities, Banks, NNPC, etc.
- RESIDENCY & CITIZENSHIP:
We support the status quo in the Constitution to be maintained because S.25 already defines indigeneship and citizenship qualifications.
- STATES & lg CREATION:
We are opposed to the creation of additional States and the naming of LGs in the Constitution.
- CONSTITUTIONAL ROLE FOR TRADTIONAL RULERS:
We are in support of a constitutional role and recognition of Traditional Rulers.
- JUDICIAL REFORMS:
- We are in support of judicial reforms but are opposed an increase in the retirement age of Supreme Court Justices.
- Decentralize the judicial system.
- ELECTORAL REFORMS:
- We recommend a return to the Parliamentary System of Government.
- We recommend the adoption and implementation of the recommendations of the Justice Mohammed Uwais Panel on Judicial Reforms especially the unbundling of INEC
- Approve Diaspora voting
- Approve electronic voting and the full automation of the voting process and the transmission of result to INEC Headquarters.
- The minimum qualification for all elective and appointive positions in the country should be and Ordinary Diploma.
- Stop the NASS and State Legislators from approving any allowances by themselves. All their emoluments must be approved by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Policy Commission.
- Executives and Legislators who cross-carper, that is, change their parties from the one they won elections on, must loose their seats automatically without any other condition.
- SOCI-ECONOMIC RIGHTS AS CONTAINED IN CHAPTER 2:
Make all these rights justiceable.
- IMMUNITY FOR THE PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, STATE GOVERNORS AND STATE DEPUTY GOVERNORS:
Retain this provision in the Constitution.
- TIME LINE FOR ASSENT OF BILLS & PASSAGE OF APPROPRIATION BILL:
We support the setting of time limit for both items.
- Rename Barkin Ladi LG as Gwol LG.
- Indigenes of the FCT should be allowed by the Constitution to have their Chiefdom in the FCT. We are opposed to the idea of appointing or electing a Mayor for the FCT.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
For: BEROM EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL ORGANISATION
Da Gyang Dudu Dalyop Da Chollom D. Gyang
President General Secretary