The Senate adhoc committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution has tasked those agitating for the creation of new states to reach out to elected representatives and groups from other geopolitical zones in the country.
The deputy Senate president and chairman of the Senate adhoc committee on the Constitution review, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, stated this while hosting the apex socio-cultural organisation of Urhobo people, Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), in his office at the National Assembly complex.
Omo-Agege underscored the buy-in of other legislators and groups, especially as they are key in determining if such demands will see the light of the day in the ongoing constitution amendment exercise.
He noted: “Let me also make this clear that the constitution review exercise is not a tea party by any means. It is a very tedious exercise. If you check Section 9 of the Constitution, it lays out a very difficult procedure that you must go through before you can achieve success with respect to the amendment.
“I don’t know what is in your submission but what I hear from the grapevine is that there is likelihood that UPU is asking for a state. If that is right, I am sure you also know the provisions of Section 8 of the Constitution. That is even more tedious than every other procedure because unlike other sections of the Constitution that recognises a constitution amendment bill to pass with two-third majority of both chambers here and two-thirds majority of state assembly, for state creation, which is under Section 8, it requires four-fifth of majority, even more majority than the regular two-third.
“But that is not to say it is impossible. If the demand is genuine and legitimate, there is no reason why it should not succeed. But you have to do the needful. You have to reach out to others. You have to lobby as to why this should be the case”.
He added that as the chairman of the review committee, he was not supposed to take a position, saying that the proponents of the idea of state creation will have to reach out to other people and different geopolitical zones and make their case.
“If they see the merit in your argument, then they could, acting through their members in the House of Representatives and Senate, go with you and vote in support,” he explained.
Earlier, leader of the group and Okobaro of Ughievwen Kingdom, HRM Dr Mathew Ediri Egbi (JP), Owahwa II, said they decided to pay a courtesy call on the deputy president of the Senate after submitting their memorandum to the secretariat of the constitution review committee.
He urged Omo-Agege to always protect the interests of Urhobos using his position as the nation’s number six citizen.
Meanwhile, the committee has extended by nine more days the deadline for the submission of memoranda by Nigerians to its secretariat at the Senate Wing of the National Assembly complex.
The deadline, which was supposed to expire yesterday was extended to Friday, September 18, 2020, apparently due to pressure mounted by interest groups that they should be accommodated.
About 68 memoranda have been received so far by the committee’s secretariat situated at Suite 0.28 of the Senate Wing as at the close of work yesterday when our reporter visited.
Notable among those that submitted their memoranda yesterday are the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Benue State government,
YIAGA-Africa, Movement for creation of Zuma State out of Niger State, and Movement for creation of Savanah State out of Gombe, Taraba and Adamawa States.
Others are Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), Okun Development Association (ODA), Concerned Nurses Association of Nigeria, among others.