By Seun Adeuyi
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has said that the current efforts at restructuring the country will not be achieved if the National Assembly does not first tinker with the 1999 constitution as amended.
A statement signed by Abubakar Shekara, Special Adviser on Public Affairs to the governor reported that Tambuwal, at the opening plenary of the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit tagged “Building partnerships for resilience”, in Abuja, on Monday stated that restructuring can only be achieved by constitution amendments, adding that the nation must avoid a repeat of the mistake of 2015 when a robust attempt by the House of Representatives to amend the constitution was rejected at last minute.
Speaking alongside Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Funke Opeke; Chief Executive Officer, MainOne and Chidi Ajaere; CEO, The GIG Group in Abuja, he said, “As it were at the moment, whatever you are going to do about the constitution, has been prescribed by the constitution, how you are going to do it, the Grundnorm,” he said.
Tambuwal, who is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum pointed out that “the constitution has prescribed how a word in that constitution is going to be amended. Except of course we are saying we are going to jettison the National Assembly and the State Assemblies, in getting it done, which is not possible.”
He said, “you can only do that through the introduction of bills at the National Assembly, debates at the National Assembly, public hearings and getting the concurrence of the 36 States Houses of Assemblies”
The governor said this was what the House of Representatives did in 2015 when it elaborately debated the issues after Nigerians had first debated them and their views collated and synthesised into an Act that was presented to the President Jonathan for assent.
He said that President Obasanjo and President Jonathan’s constitutional conferences failed because there Resolutions were not translated into legislation.
Speaking further, he said: “So you cannot go outside of the constitution to amend the constitution, so we better came to terms with this realisation and agree to come together and agree on how best we can work together to achieve what the nation desires” Governor Tambuwal told his audience at the summit opening.
“In that effort that we made, we attempted to reduce the items we have in the exclusive legislative list and move them to the concurrent legislative list, things like power, power generation and distribution, railway and a host of others to move them because we realised their importance to sub national development.
“Because as it is today you have to get the permission of the federal government to generate, transmit and distribute power, but if you amend the constitution and move that item to the concurrent legislative list, a state like Sokoto may begin the process of establishing a solar plant with capacity to generate say 20 – 30 Megawatts of electricity and set up another hydro plant and have a mix of power generation that can generate up to 60 Megawatts of electricity enough to power the entire state,
“So also with railways, if you take it off the exclusive legislative list, states or zones in terms of the 6 geopolitical zones that we have in the country, may come together and establish railway for their people
“We also removed policing from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list, which would have allowed states by now to have state police but as it is now you cannot have state police without constitutional amendment.
“What we did then was a multifaceted approach to address the lists of challenges Nigeria was facing as at that time in terms of security, power, central and general development,
“Even by removing the issues that had to do with basic education and primary healthcare from chapter 2 that is not justiciable to chapter 4 that is, were landmark decisions that were all made by the 7th House of Representatives to make things easy and possible for implementation by sub national and federal governments.”