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House to engage State Assemblies on Constitution amendment

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Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila
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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the House would have to initiate interactions with State Assemblies to fast-track the ongoing Constitution amendment by the House.

Gbajabiamila expressed fears that with the ongoing electioneering activities, the process of amending the Constitution may suffer a setback, hence the need for the House to engage members of the 36 States’ Houses of Assemblies, who are in possession of the document, to expedite the process.

In an address on Tuesday to welcome his colleagues back from their break during which political parties held their primary elections to elect candidates for various elective offices, Gbajabiamila said the 9th House must refocus on its mandate to achieve the target it set for itself in its Legislative Agenda.

“The constitutional amendment process is still ongoing. We have already sent several Constitutional amendment bills to the State Houses of Assembly for consideration. While we cannot dictate the pace of activities in the State legislatures, we must consider the possibility that these proposals are at risk of being forgotten amidst the heightened politicking across the country.

“Therefore, to the extent that we can, there may be a need to coordinate interactions with the State legislatures to ensure timely consideration of the bills. The leadership of the House of Representatives will examine the options we have in this regard and take a decision shortly.”

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Gbajabiamila bemoaned the losses recorded by some members of the House who sought to return for the betterment of the Legislature, saying their losses were a big blow to democracy.

“The past two months have been dominated by political pursuits across the country as political parties carry out various activities to nominate their candidates for the forthcoming general election.

“All of us, members of the House of Representatives, have not been exempt from this process. Unfortunately, as is always the case in electoral contests, some of us who sought the nomination of our parties to return to legislature have not gotten it. Others who sought nomination to contest other positions have also fallen short in that quest.

“I make bold to say here that the legislature has once again suffered losses. The loss really is not for members who lost, it is a loss to democracy, the institution and to the country. If it means anything, I know and I am aware that many of our members did not lose their primaries because they were rejected by their constituents.

“Many of our members lost because of the process, the process which we foresaw in the House of Representatives. The delegate system which unfortunately is not what a delegate system is supposed to be.

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“Many of our members lost because they were not even given a fair shot. We have good legislators, both here in the chambers and back home, who are probably not coming back because of this same process. When we fought for direct primaries in this House, we knew exactly what we were saying. It pains me very deeply, that the process has gone the way it has gone. We will continue to push and continue to fight for our members, for democracy, for the institution and this country.”

Gbajabiamila, therefore, enjoined members to set aside their feelings about recent electoral experiences and” focus on serving the mandate we still have.”

“Whereas in the past, the start of the electoral calendar marked the end of governance as a priority, that will not be the case in this 9th Assembly. Our term in office does not end till next year. Until the moment it does, until the last minute of the final hour, we will do the people’s work and serve their interests. That is the oath we swore and the commitment we will live up to, come what may.”

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He said Nigerians have started witnessing the implementation of the Electoral Act, 2022 and that lessons drawn therefrom would guide future reform efforts.

“It is necessary to note that the process by which the Electoral Act became law has highlighted valuable lessons we will do well to take cognisance of. These lessons should inform and motivate us to improve the National Assembly’s law-making process.

“Honourable colleagues, we must never forget that our work here is consequential. When we get it right, we can vastly improve the lives and circumstances of our people. And when we fall short, our country is poorer for it.

“Between now and the general elections, we have to resolve to devote our minds and energy to the pressing concerns of governance. This is what the people who sent us here expect of us at this time when we have various significant challenges to contend with. Insecurity remains for us all a matter of the most serious concern.”

He noted the sad incident that occurred in a church in Owo, Ondo State, where some terrorists attacked and killed many worshippers, saying “This House demands that the security agencies identify the perpetrators and sponsors of this depraved act.”

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