By Hawwah A. Gambo
Concerned and patriotic Nigerians have for a very long time demanded for a constitutional review and amendment based on the conviction that not only are a huge part of our constitutional provisions unrealistic, obsolete, and not workable in this age and time, they are also a part of the problem rather than the solution. Technology and social media have helped amplified our voices and calls for constitutional review loud enough for it to be heard and considered, which could be the catalyst for the recent call for proposals by the senate ad-hoc committee on constitutional review.
Running a working and functional society is a continuous and recurrent one, this also applies to the constitution that governs it. As time goes by, population multiplies, people grow, their problems, challenges, beliefs, priorities and needs also evolve with them. This is the reason why reviewing the constitution is a very important activity that must not be overlooked.
However, it would seem that the recent call for proposals from the office of the senate president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria came out with an already broken record, an already intentioned plan for failure, hence why it was given a 14 days lifespan after which submissions will no longer be accepted.
The senate ad-hoc committee on the review of the 1999 constitution sent out a call for submissions to the general public, civil society organisations, executive and judicial bodies, professional bodies and every other interested groups to submit memoranda or proposal for further alterations to the 1999 constitution in 14 days.
It is unbelievable how the senate ad-hoc committee expects the civil society organisations, judicial and executive bodies, professional bodies, and any other interested group/persons to submit a well thought, researched and written proposal in 14 days; all these amidst their tight work schedule, the worry over the state of the nation, mental strain of Covid19, their own family/personal problems and many other stuff people are dealing with? Just how? 60 working days, which is 8 weeks is hardly enough for such a task in this present moment much less a miserly 2 weeks.
Publishing the call for proposals on 25th August and expecting all submission to come in by the 8th of September in a country like Nigeria where stress and depression, lack of power supply (which is instrumental to information gathering, research and writing) is completely delusional and unrealistic. When you put into consideration that the call for proposal is not well circulated across 210 million Nigerians but restricted to only a privileged few (those who can read, and those with access to internet) and those in remote and rural areas that have no access to electricity much less internet access have automatically been excluded, it leaves a lot to question.
The only plausible explanation to fixing a short timeline for such an important national assignment can only be that of deliberate sabotage and intentioned attempt to undermine the process even before it began. The senate ad-hoc committee on the review of the 1999 constitution should acknowledge and understand how unrealistic this 2 weeks’ timeframe is for both call and submission of proposal as not only is it not enough time to get submissions together, it is also hardly enough time to get the call notice circulated to every civil society, organisations, executive, judicial and professional bodies in every part of the country in time for their action.
I hereby call on the senate ad-hoc committee on constitutional review to extend the timeline for submission of proposals. After considering all the negating factors characterising what living in Nigeria means and is about, the least time that should be given is 12 weeks minimum.
It is my earnest hope that the committee will consider this appeal for extension of the deadline for submission of proposals for the benefit of all Nigeria and Nigerians.
May God bless Nigeria.
Hawwah A. Gambo writes from Abuja. Also on dladyofmysteries.blogspot.com