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The Senate has criticized the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, saying that as legislators, they were prepared to engage them through the proper legislative channel rather than the media.
Senators said members of the Northern Elders Forum should be aware of the topic areas announced for constitutional reforms that cut across some of the concerns they raised.
However, the Elders were challenged to refer their memorandum to the Constitution Review Committee for the Committee to work on, rather than fail, to revise the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Speaking to journalists Monday about NEF’s position that the Senate should direct its energy and mandate to convince President Muhammadu Buhari to end the insurgency in the Northeast in lieu of the Constitution review process, the committee chairman Senatorial Media and Public Affairs Senator Ajibola Basiru, Congress of All Progressives, APC, Osun Central, said that as elders, however, they were entitled to their views.
Senator Basiru said: “Although you are entitled to your opinions, the question you need to ask yourself is; Does it mean that if previous legislatures and executives (administrations) have possibly or presumably failed in this regard, it will never be possible?
“Their statement even implied an agreement on their part that there is a need for a fundamental restructuring exercise, which is the purpose of the present effort of the Ninth National Assembly. Their views can be summarized in a memorandum to the Constitution Review Committee. The topic areas announced for constitutional reforms cut across some of the concerns they raised and therefore we would be happy to engage them through the appropriate legislative channel rather than the media. “
Meanwhile, former Senate Minority Leader Senator Biodun Olujimi of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Ekiti South, has praised the Senate for its efforts so far in revising the 1999 Constitution.
When asked if NEF was correct in saying that the ongoing constitution review efforts will end as a jamboree because what happened in the past had nothing to note, Senator Olujimi said: “No. We made an impact last time. That was where we obtained autonomy for the Assembly of States and the judiciary. If we take small steps, you will discover that in no time these alterations will almost be done. And unless we keep trying hard to do them, they will just linger and nothing will be done.
“I do not agree with them in that regard. I think even the small, if we can achieve a gender equality alteration and 35 percent affirmative action on the alteration this time, would we say that we have achieved nothing? We would have achieved a lot because women, children and youth make up almost 60 percent of our population and if you work for those people then you have worked for Nigeria.
“So I think we should keep pushing ourselves to do these little things in the hope that we are allowed to do them as legislators.”