His Excellency President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
Presentation of the Report of the Committee on the
Review of Outstanding Constitutional Issues
Abuja. July 10 2012
- It is with great pleasure that I formally receive the Report of the Committee to Review Outstanding Issues from Recent Constitutional Conferences. Today’s event signals a seminal defining moment in our quest for the consolidation and entrenchment of democratic ideals in our nation’s political and governance processes.
- While inaugurating this Committee on November 17th 2011, I made it clear that the work of the Committee would be an important component in the process of national dialogue for enduring change and transformation.
- Such a process must, of necessity, admit conflicting persuasions while it is the duty of Government to focus and mediate the different perspectives to our shared vision and forge national consensus and cohesion. That was why I urged the Committee to build on the many issues on which the previous Conferences had reached firm consensus.
- It is gratifying to note that the Committee chaired by the Honourable Justice Alfa Belgore has faithfully discharged its mandate; and for the painstaking work they have done, they richly deserve to be commended. I thank the members for their personal sacrifice, demonstrable patriotism, and uncommon diligence exhibited during the execution of this onerous national assignment.
- I am particularly grateful to the Honourable Justice Alfa Belgore, who continued with the arduous task of steering the work of the Committee even after the very sad loss of his wife. I would request that you please join me to observe a minute’s silence in honour of the memory of Hajia Fatima Alfa Belgore.
- May her soul find eternal rest in the bosom of Almighty God.
- Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, even though the present Constitution has served the nation well, the general consensus is that it requires review and amendment in view of gaps that have become evident in our attempt to operationalize it over the last 13 years. The Committee’s mandate included the preparation of a legislative bill that would be sent to the National Assembly for debate and consideration in the proposed Constitutional Review exercise. In submitting its Report today, the Committee has fulfilled this charge.
- I am informed that the Committee reached unanimous agreements on changes in key areas of the Constitution; and that the recommendations that you are submitting today include provisions to strengthen Fundamental Rights as well as legal protection for all citizens, especially children, women and the physically challenged. I also understand that you have worked hard to develop provisions for speedy and fairer administration of justice.
- I am one with you on these issues, as I believe that fundamental rights, security of life and property, the protection of the law, and equitable dispensation of justice must be made real as they greatly influence the average citizen’s sense of obligation and patriotic disposition towards the nation.
- I am equally pleased that the Committee has paid justified attention to Local Government Administration. I am convinced, given my personal experience at national and sub-national levels of governance in Nigeria, that the greatest asset of our democracy is the commitment of people at the grassroots to the ideals of transparency, accountability and good governance.
- Considering that Local Governments have the greatest potential for maximum impact on the lives of all citizens, the extent of their efficient development is the true measure of our democracy’s claim to being a government of the people by the people and for the people.
- Similarly, the Committee has made robust proposals on the public accountability imperative for officials in the Executive and the Legislature. As the most visible arms of Government, their integrity and functional capacities determine the quality of trust and reality of the social contract in any society. Their success and mutual reinforcement define the hope of our nation, while their excesses and shortcomings subvert the dreams of democratic transformation.
- I welcome the Chairman’s assertion that the Committee has made profound recommendations to strengthen the Legislature at all levels and also to demand conformity with extant national regulations in the conduct of their affairs.
- I equally welcome the recommendations that will grant the Executive more flexibility in policy making, like the removal of the Land Use Act from the Constitution but retaining it as a National Law.
- This Report is a great contribution to our efforts to have a Constitution that not only reflects our present reality, but also anticipates future challenges. I assure you that the Report will receive expeditious consideration.
- Finally, I would like to reiterate our Administration’s unshakeable faith in the emergence of a strong, united, and prosperous Nigerian nation.
- Our enduring sense of brotherhood, unwavering desire for freedom, unique resilience, and abiding faith in Nigeria have seen us through sundry challenges over the past 52 years of nationhood. I am confident that these innate attributes will provide us the requisite fortitude to persevere and overcome in the face of new challenges.
- On behalf of the Government and people of the Federal republic of Nigeria, I once again thank the Chairman and members of the Committee to Review Outstanding Issues from Recent Constitutional Conferences for a job well done.
- Thank you.