December 4, 2023

Okechukwu stated that the reports would be demanded when it is time for the committee to consider and harmonise bills and memoranda before it.

The lawmaker, therefore, urged the ruling APC and the Executive arm of the Federal Government led by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to forward the reports to the National Assembly for consideration by the parliament.

Okechukwu asked why the APC government would give such a task to el-Rufai and other stakeholders of the ruling party, only for their report to be abandoned.

Speaking to our correspondent on Friday, he said, “It was essentially driven by the fact that as a parliament, we should be able to have sufficient information and data; our history and previous literature on the subject of Constitution review.

“Like you would have observed during (the presentation of) my motion, it was very clear that the 2014 confab discussed exhaustively issues relating to the administrative structure of Nigeria, security, finances, physical relationship of the federation and its component parts.

These pieces of data, literature and history cannot be confined to the dustbin. It was very important that it should be domiciled with the parliament.

“Presently, it belongs to the Executive and unless they bring it by way of executive bill, it cannot enjoy the same level of support or attention as it should ordinarily. We don’t have it formally. The aim of the confab was that after their discussions and deliberations – by people coming from the various parts of Nigeria, who have been constituted by the Executive, those documents would now come to the parliament which, by Constitution, is enabled to make laws.

“Otherwise, it will just be a mere discussion or observation. But when it comes to the parliament, we will convert the views into legislative frameworks and eventually, into law. That is how it will make meaning to Nigerians.
“So, it is not an official document of parliament. That was why I moved a motion as a persuasive authority for parliament to have those documents. But it was stepped down because the Deputy Speaker, who is Chairman of the (Committee on) Constitution Review, was of the opinion that by operation of the secretariat, they were going to invite memoranda from the general public within a period.”

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When asked what would happen if the time set for submission of the reports or bills had lapsed, Okechukwu said, “When we begin to sit, we will ask for it. And you know that there is still going to be public hearing, there is going to be presentations.”

He asked, “I also do not know why the APC, as a ruling party, would set up a committee and the committee presented a report but they would not bring those documents to limelight where they will be useful.

“Yet, they are heading both chambers of the National Assembly. We will expect that if it is a committee set up by the APC, they will compel their representatives to bring it up or they should submit it to parliament.”

When probed further about what those demanding the reports would do at the committee level, the Deputy Minority Leader said, “When we get to the committee, we will demand for it; we will demand for it and ask they be part of the documents of the Constitution. At least, it will enhance our knowledge of what Nigerians have ordinarily agreed upon It does not hurt anybody.”
There was a mild drama at the House on February 10, 2021, when the Deputy Minority Leader moved a motion to call for consideration of confab and APC reports.

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila had, however, ruled that the motion be stepped down after it was criticised by the Deputy Speaker/Chairman of the House Committee on Constitution Review, Ahmed Wase.

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