Citizens groups have identified major issues of concerns that are expected to be amended in the Nigerian Constitution as the Nigerian Senate holds Zonal public hearing across the country.
Sharing common concerns during a one-day citizens’ roundtable on Constitutional Review and Electoral Reform, organized by Yiaga Africa under its European Union Support to democratic Governance in Nigeria, citizens express optimism that the issues being raised would reflect in the amended constitution.
Issues that top the list among the 17 issues that have been identified for the public hearing include Restructuring, Media Freedom, Gender and Disability-Inclusion.
Speaking during the roundtable session, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, International Press Centre, disclosed that the roundtable was organized “to ensure that issues that are of utmost concerns to citizens are factored into the constitutional amendment.”
Mr. Arogundade mentioned that the previous constitutional amendment in the country did not reflect all the memo submitted by various citizens’ group, but however raised optimism that this process would yield positive results.
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Ayodele Taofiq-Fanida, Lagos coordinator, Yiaga Africa said that, “Yiaga Africa and other partners organized this roundtable as an effort to coordinate citizen’s and CSO partners at the state level to engage the Zonal public hearing on Constitution review.
“Our role as an organization is working to support democracy in Nigeria, and the key issues for us in this constitution review process include increased women representation and vulnerable group participation in government; Local Government Administration/Local Government Autonomy; Federal Structure of governance/Power Devolution; Electoral Reforms; and Justiciability of Social Economy rights.”
Fanida also added that, “the time we are in, in the country demand for a great action for peace and development to happen and my expectations is that citizens will be able to push for this amendment genuinely, and will reflect the concerns of the people for a better country.”
Sharing his position on the constitutional amendment, David Anyaele, Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, noted that “we are concerned about Sections 15, 48, 49 and 223(B) of the constitution which subjects persons with disabilities to various forms of discrimination.”
Also, Dr. Akin Akingbulu, Executive Director, Institute of Media and Society, IMS noted that to ensure media freedom, “the National Broadcasting Commission must be independent and have full regulatory power to do its work without interference.”
Dr. Akingbulu buttressed that, “the NBC must be among the agencies of government that would be captured in the constitution”, adding that, “Local Governments should not be responsible for the collection of radio and television levies but the NBC.”
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The zonal public hearing by the Senate is scheduled to hold between May 26th and 27th while the House of Representatives will hold its zonal public hearing between June 1st and 2nd 2021.