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Pro-Jonathan lawmakers move to dump constitution review for confab

The review of the 1999 Constitution by the House of Representatives might have been put on hold, following subtle moves by many members of the lower chambers of the National Assembly to stop further work on the matter, pending the conclusion of the national dialogue, which was recently initiated by the presidency.

Findings by Vanguard indicated that many of the lawmakers loyal to President Goodluck Jonathan were favourably disposed to the suspension of further action on the amendment of the Constitution by the leadership of the House of Representatives until the conclusion of the proposed conference.

Senate President, David Mark; President Jonathan and House of Reps Speaker, Tambuwal
Senate President, David Mark; President Jonathan and House of Reps Speaker, Tambuwal

A source in the National Assembly said that the pro-government elements had been meeting routinely on how to scuttle the completion of the amendment of the Constitution, which they suspect may adversely affect the political fortunes of some top politicians in their camp.

To get at the leadership of the House of Representatives and stall further deliberations on the constitution amendment, the pro-government group is reported to have begun insinuations that the leadership had already spent close to N100 billion on the project without any progress.

The group also alleged that the leadership had diverted part of the funds meant for the review for the acquisition of exotic cars for some of the top officials of the House, leaving the job undone.

‘Amendments must proceed’

However, chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, said that members would not suspend review of the constitution for the deliberations of the national dialogue, as the two were completely different.

Mohammed stated that the amendment must be taken to a logical conclusion to satisfy the desire of Nigerians to have a truly peoples constitution and deepen democracy and good governance in the country.

Although the lawmaker did not say how much had been expended on the project, he dispelled the allegation of spending N100 billion on the amendment of the constitution, saying that the entire budget of the National Assembly was not more than N150 billion.

Another lawmaker, who is close to the leadership of the House, noted that there was a serious attempt by some aggrieved persons to use some members against the leadership of the House over perceived lack of cooperation and support for the presidency.

According to the lawmaker “we are aware of subtle moves to get at our leader, whom they accuse of not supporting the party that gave him the ticket.

“But we know that they will fail woefully because the Speaker has chosen to be on the side of the majority of the people of Nigeria and not play to the gallery for cheap popularity.

“The national dialogue is a creation of the presidency and we do not know what it is out to achieve, while the amendment of the Nigerian Constitution is a project that must be done speedily to bring about a positive change in the way we do things.”

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