The House of Representatives, yesterday, rejected a motion praying the House to obtain the 2014 national conference and All Progressives Congress (APC) Committee on True Federalism reports for consideration in the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The sponsor of the motion, Toby Okechukwu, in the motion, had prayed that the House Special Ad-hoc Committee on Review of the Constitution be mandated to obtain the two reports within two weeks.
Okechukwu, in his motion, noted that “the Federal Government of Nigeria instituted the National Conference on March 17, 2014, where about 492 delegates drawn from various segments, interest and professional groups of the Nigerian society brainstormed on how to build Nigeria into a more cohesive, viable and prosperous union.
“The Conference made over 600 recommendations cutting across public service; devolution of powers and political restructuring; national security; trade and investment; energy; public finance and revenue generation; social welfare; politics and governance; electoral reforms, among others.
“Also, aware that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) set up a Committee on True Federalism in August 2017, pursuant to Article 7 of the APC Constitution, the foreword to the APC Manifesto entitled ‘Our Vision for a New Nigeria’ (page 3, paragraph 2), the party’s ‘Honest Contract with Nigerians’(page 7 of the APC Manifesto), its ‘Commitment to Restore Good Governance’ (page 29 of the APC Manifesto), and the party’s promise on to build ‘a Government You Can Trust’ (page 37 of the APC Manifesto), with a combined effect to engender national unity and stability, true federalism, good governance and national development.”
The lawmaker added that “the reports of the 2014 National Conference and the APC Committee on True Federalism will benefit the National Assembly in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities, including the ongoing constitution amendment efforts.”
However, as soon as Okechukwu was done with reading his motion, the deputy speaker, who is also the chairman of the committee, Ahmed Idris Wase, urged the House to step down the motion.
Wase told the House that motion was a breach of procedure. He explained that the committee had its procedure and it does not include obtaining reports from any conference or political party.
Nevertheless, the deputy speaker said issues contained in the reports had been shortlisted by the committee for inputs from the general public.
He said: “We have a procedure, the motion is asking us to obtain a report from a political party; this is not part of the procedure, it’s the duty of these groups to send in their suggestions to the committee. I want to beg that the motion should be stepped down, ” Wase said.
Regardless, Okechukwu, who stated that he was motivated to bring the motion because of the state of the nation, argued that his approach did not flaunt the rules.
“I do not think that the approach offends any of our rules. As he has said, the committee has advertised. It is better to err on the side of caution. The Kaduna State governor, who chaired the APC committee, said that since we are reviewing the Constitution, he hopes that we will consider some of the recommendations.
“I am saying this because of the state of the union, because with what I am seeing, the state of union is not strong,” the deputy minority leader stated.
However, the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, ruled that the motion be stepped down.