Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has confessed Nigeria is in serious fight for its survival due to “systemic weaknesses”.
“Recent global developments have exposed all our systemic weaknesses so that we can no longer pretend to ourselves that things are on an even keel and slow progress is enough to get us to where we ought to be yet are still so far away from,” said the Speaker, during the inauguration of the House Ad Hoc Committee for constitution review on Thursday in Abuja.
According to the legislator, the nation’s challenges require urgent solution, stressing it is one of the reasons the constitution review needs to be hastened.
He also said the House has realised that “many of our development questions lies in the pages of a new Nigerian constitution”.
“When you ask me what the state of our nation is, the honest answer is this: we are in a fight for the very survival of our country and the continuation of the Nigerian project,” Gbajabiamila said.
“Recent global developments have exposed all our systemic weaknesses so that we can no longer pretend to ourselves that things are on an even keel and slow progress is enough to get us to where we ought to be yet are still so far away from.
“This ninth house of representatives has since committed to the cause of reform. Our commitment must neither waver nor wane on the matter of thoughtful and fair overhaul of our nation’s constitution.
“The reality of our current circumstances and the now certain knowledge that only us can save ourselves imposes on us an obligation to act with greater determination and all the urgency this moment calls for.”
Also speaking, Ahmed Idris, Deputy Speaker, said there has been a continued clamour for a review of the 1999 constitution because “there are very critical aspects of our constitution that touch on our continued existence as a strong, indivisible nation” which need to be addressed.
“A vast majority of Nigerians consider the 1999 constitution a product of military exigency,” he said.
Idris said among the key areas that will be looked into include the federal structure in pursuit of “true federalism”, local government and judicial autonomy, state policing, and state creation.
This is as the Speaker announced that the federal legislators will ensure that they appropriates funds for the compensation of the victims of the #EndSARS protests.
He said the action would be in line with the House resolve to ensure that the lives of those reportedly killed during the protests in parts of the country did not go in vain.
To get them compensated, Gbajabiamila said, the House would obtain the list of all the victims and use the 2021 budget process to get them compensated through their families.
Commenting on the dissolution of SARS by President Muhammadu Buhari during Tuesday’s plenary, Gbajabiamila said the Nigerian people have spoken and that the government listened.
He said the House had reached some resolutions last week on the brutality of SARS officers and that it was gladdening that the unit has been disbanded.
“The people that we represent have spoken, and the government has listened. The President has unequivocally dissolved SARS.
“The House had last week reached some resolutions on the issue. It shows that we’re on the same page with the Nigerian people.
“We should get the list of those that lost their lives so that during this budget process, we’ll be able to appropriate for their full compensation,” the Speaker said.
Gbajabiamila also noted that the House must keep to one of the resolutions it reached last week, which said the Green Chamber would immediately commence the legislative process of reforming the Nigeria Police.
He indicated that a proposed legislation would soon be tabled on the floor of the House on that.
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