Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara yesterday said the “extensive” consultation with Nigerians before the alteration of some sections of the 1999 Constitution made it mandatory for President Muhammadu Buhari to endorse the amendments.
Saraki and Dogara spoke while receiving the report of the voting pattern by State Houses of Assembly on the Constitution amendment.
Dogara specifically said that President Buhari may have no choice but to assent to the constitution amendments because they were what Nigerians wanted.
Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly Chairman Abdulmumini Kamba, who presented volumes of the report to Saraki and Dogara, noted that most State Assemblies were not happy that the Bill on devolution of power failed to sail through at the two chambers of the National Assembly.
Kamba, who is also Kebbi State House of Assembly speaker, pleaded with the National Assembly to reconsider its stand on devolution of power in the interest of the country.
Dogara said: “I have always said that governments all over the world lay claim to being democratic. There is no government out there that can truly be democratic if it does not have a fiercely independent legislature. That has been the major challenge in Nigeria. With the courage I have seen demonstrated in State Assemblies, it is an indication of the promise that awaits us.
“I was hoping that with the calibre of people seated here, we would have delivered on autonomy of local governments. This is an exercise that is ongoing. Maybe in the next exercise, our State Assemblies, which will be independent, will extend the same freedom to local governments. We stand with them, if autonomy of local government is delivered, we will only be deepening democracy.
“I do not think that it will be right at this level, after passing through these processes, for these bills to be returned without passing them into law.
“The President is a popular person and the masses who are with him who have been massively consulted have said this is what we want. What we have done reflects the wishes of the people. The President must do the wishes of the people who put him in that office.”
Saraki added that when the National Assembly promised to conclude work on the amendment of the Constitution, they were not sure.
He said: “When we made this promise at the beginning of the 8th Senate, we were not sure. We have achieved a lot. There are other areas like the devolution of powers. We have set up a joint committee from the Senate and the House of Representatives to work on areas of differences. In the next few days, we will get back to work.
“The non participation of Lagos and Rivers states in the Constitution amendment is very disappointing. I hope that in the next phase they will participate. This idea of bullying is not good for us and for our democracy.”
House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasu, the deputy chairman of the Constitution Amendment Committee, said that 15 clauses were transmitted, out of 29 forwarded to the 36 State Houses of Assembly.
Lasu noted that since the amendment wwas broken into bills, President Buhari was likely to sign some if not all, into law.