The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday confirmed that the processes of effecting new amendments to the 1999 Constitution was put on hold because the Senate and the House had not harmonised their differences on the bills.
The two chambers considered 33 proposals in July, but the outcome of voting indicated that they did not agree on all the items.
The differences will require a conference committee of both chambers to harmonise them before the amendments will be transmitted to the 36 state Houses of Assembly for “approval.”
Dogara spoke at the National Assembly in Abuja when a delegation of the Conference of Speakers of Nigerian State Legislatures visited him.
The speakers were led by their Chairman, Ismaila Abdulmumin-Kamba.
Under the 1999 Constitution, a proposal to amend the constitution must secure two-thirds majority vote of both chambers of the National Assembly to pass.
It must in turn secure the “approval” of two-thirds majority (24) of the 36 states’ Houses of Assembly to be included in the constitution.
A statement by the Speaker’s Media Office on Wednesday said Dogara admitted that the new constitution could not leave the National Assembly because it had yet to be harmonised in Abuja.
“He also explained the delay in the transmission of the Constitution Amendment Bills recently passed by both chambers of the National Assembly to state MPs, saying it is as a result of ongoing consultations between the two houses to harmonise all areas of differences in order to produce a uniform document”, the statement said.
At the meeting, Dogara also complained of biting poverty in the country, saying that the legislature at all levels must join in the search for workable solutions.
“We know that if something has to be done at the level of government that will translate into a better life for our people, it must begin from the local government level, at the state level, and then before we even talk about the federal level,” he added.
The Speaker advised state lawmakers to be firm in dealing with the executive rather than giving in to all of their demands.
“In democracy, we worship no one, we should fear only God but we respect men.
“When you have a parliament that only responds to the demands of the executive, there is no way we can make progress. We have to carry out our responsibilities without having any fear at all,” he said.
The speakers had earlier assured Dogara that they would act on the constitution bills as soon as they were transmitted to the states.
Their chairman added, “We, at the Conference of Speakers, are ready to do justice to these issues. We have already concluded that whatever you will transmit to us, we will carry our strata and groups along and agree that whatever the majority may agree on will be carried out.”