By Femi Ogunshola, Abuja.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Monday expressed doubts over the conclusion of constitution amendment before the expiration of ninth National Assembly in June 2023.
He voiced the reservation at the second edition of the Distinguished Parliamentarians Lecture, organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) in Abuja.
The speaker said that the National Assembly had passed a draft of amendment to the Constitution and advanced it to the states, as required, adding that the process now seemed to have been stalled in the state legislatures.
“As it is today, it is doubtful that the current constitutional amendment effort will be concluded before the expiration of this legislative arm,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said that in spite of the broad national agreement on the need for reform, the potential for achievements could rise or fall, based on differences on expectations of the context, peace and direction of the specific proposal.
The speaker said that the conclusion of the amendment was necessary to enable it advance the course of the nation’s democracy and strengthen it for the good of the country.
Gbajabiamila said that one of the effective tools which the ninth National Assembly had adopted was the public policy dialogue, adding that the dialogues were structured engagement between the stakeholders.
He said that this was designed to build a shared understanding of issues and advance policy recommendations that addressed issues in a manner which the parties could agree with.
“These dialogues have helped us to advance national security legislation that may otherwise have proved difficult to scale through,” he said.
The Director-General of NILDS, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman, said: “Today’s occasion attests to the robust nature of symbiotic roles of the executive and legislative arms of government.”
He said that this had brought to bear on democratic practices in Africa, where Nigeria had taken the lead.
Suleiman said that if the symbiotic relationship between the two arms of government was strengthened, it would portend a leeway for democracy and impactful good governance to thrive.
He, however, said that this did not preclude the two arms having to occasionally diverge, even seriously on issues that had direct bearing on the lives of constituents.