The National Assembly has again included N850 million in the budget for 2023 for a constitutional amendment.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s N20.5 trillion budget proposal from October 2022 was recently increased by N1.3 trillion by the National Assembly.
The House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, recently stated that the amendment bill’s passage in the ninth Assembly has come to a standstill, adding to the long list of delays the parliament has experienced with the process of amending the constitution.
He said, “The National Assembly passed a raft of amendments to the constitution and advanced them to the states as required. That process now seems to have stalled in the state assemblies. As it is today, it is doubtful that the current constitutional amendment effort will conclude before the expiration of this legislative term.”
The government has over the years allocated about N1bn annually for constitution amendment which has continued to face challenges since 2011.
The Ninth Assembly recently lamented that the process of the constitution review was being frustrated by some state governors.
The National Assembly has however continued to make allocation available for the project.
The Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, recently lamented that only 11 states have passed bills.
The 11 states that have passed their bills include; Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Lagos, Ogun and Osun.
Speaking on the yearly allocation of funds to the National Assembly, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, believes the project has failed, saying the 10th Assembly, which begins in June 2023, will have to start all over again.
He said, “Constitutional Amendment has deliberately become a ritual that the lawmakers are using to embezzle funds without any yielded result.
“It is unfair and a total waste of public funds that all the key issues that affect Nigerians like indigenisation, discrimination, land ownership, and some other laws are not captured in the Amendment.”
The activist added that “It is sad that the leaders both executive and legislature do not have the interest of the people at heart, if they do, we won’t be spending money every year over the same repeated circle of a failed constitution amendment project that has never succeeded for once.
“The process of the Constitution Amendments should begin with gathering information from the citizens to know what issues to be amended exactly.”
Rafsanjani added that people must begin to demand for accountability the money that it spends especially as it relates to the constitutional amendment.
Attempts to get the Senate to comment were unsuccessful according to Ajibola Basiru, the Senate spokesperson.
He also hasn’t responded to the SMS message that was delivered to him.