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Constitution review kicks off this month – Mark

Posted by By ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Abuja on 2008/01/08 | Views: 301 |

Constitution review kicks off this month – Mark

The National Assembly has concluded plans to begin the much talked about review of the 1999 constitution this month.

The National Assembly has concluded plans to begin the much talked about review of the 1999 constitution this month.

As a prelude to the exercise, a seven- man committee is expected to be set up as soon as the Senate reconvenes on Tuesday.

Although details of the composition of the committee was sketchy as at press time, Daily Sun learnt that Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has been pencilled down to head the team, which is expected to comprise the chairman of the Conference of Speakers of the State Houses of Assemblies.

Dropping the hint yesterday ahead of its resumption, Chairman of the National Assembly and President of the Senate, Senator David Mark said the exercise would kick off immediately the 2008 budget was passed and assented to by President Umaru Yar’Adua.

This is, however, coming on the heels of a proposed meeting between the office of the Senate President and those of media owners with a view to finding ways of ridding the journalism profession of quacks. The meeting, he noted, was a prelude to the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill.

Speaking through his spokesman, Kola Ologbodiyan, in a statement entitled: “Our expectations in 2008,” the Senate President said the constitution review committee would partner with the state assemblies for the amendment process in line with the provisions of the constitution, adding that the National Assembly under his leadership would ensure that the non-implementation of budgetary allocations which he noted was characteristic of the immediate past administration would be a thing of the past.

Said Mark: “We look forward to the passage of the 2008 Appropriation Bill before the end of January and like I’ve always said, the oversight functions of the National Assembly would be strengthened in order to ensure that whatever fund is earmarked for the respective projects provided for in the bill is well utilized.

“Our Public Accounts Committee as well as other standing committees is prepared to monitor the implementation of the budgetary performance more vigorously than the prevailing environments of the past.
“We look forward to the 1999 Constitution review process and as soon as the budget is passed and assented to by Mr. President, we will constitute the review committee which would partner with state assemblies in conformity with the provisions of the constitution.”

Mark went further to say that the lawmakers would strive to maintain the cordial working relationship that has been existing between them and the executive, even as he noted that the lawmakers would continue to make laws that would have direct impact on the ordinary citizens in the streets.

“In 2008, the National Assembly, under my leadership, will maintain the current harmonious working relationship with the executive arm in order to achieve good governance and economic benefit for the ordinary Nigerian. By so doing, we will not trade off our legislative independence just as the National Assembly will not annex the functions of either the executive or the judiciary,” he said.
“We hope to be more responsive to the yearnings of Nigerians by addressing recurrent emerging needs of the people through the enactment of laws that would provide enabling environment for economic growth,” he further stated.

While expressing the readiness and willingness of the Senate to speedily pass the Freedom of Information Bill, Mark said a mini-conference would be convened between his office and officials of Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and owners of broadcast media to find ways of curbing the activities of quacks in the journalism profession.

“We hope to quickly revisit the Freedom of Information Bill in order to accelerate the process of passing it into law. However, it is also our desire to convene a mini-conference between my office and the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and the owners of broadcast media on the ways to check the roles of quacks in the noble profession of journalism before we embark on the passage of the bill.

“Above all, the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, will continue to take its legislative responsibilities very seriously. We will be fair, honest, transparent and just in the onerous task of taking our great nation to the next level,” said the Senate President

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