Ondo: Yiaga Africa prepares citizens for Constitution Review And Electoral Reform

By: Ade Adeleke

……holds Roundtable ahead of this week’s Wed, Thur Public Hearing in Akure.

In order to prepare most Nigerians in Ondo state for the task of reviewing the nation’s 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Reform, a nongovernmental organization, YIAGA Africa has held a One-day Citizen’s Roundtable on constitution review and electoral matters in Akure, the senate zonal center for Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States for the national assignment.

Recently, the chairman senate committee on constitution review, Ovie Omo- Agege had revealed that the country’s 1999 constitution is to be reviewed.

This is just as he added that the issues for review include Gender equity, Public Revenue, States and Local government creation/autonomy, FCT Administration, judicial autonomy, State Police, Revenue formular and passage of appropriation bill among others.

According to YIAGA, the roundtable was aimed at building the capacity of citizens on how to engage with the constitution review and electoral reform process, and building solidarity for effective engagement during and after the public hearings.

One of the facilitators, Alo Martin who represented YIAGA explained that the roundtable was put together to harmonise ideas to strengthen the constitution review process.

Some of the participants at the roundtable including traders, academic scholars, traditional rulers, religious leaders, media professionals and legal practitioners among others, expressed their readiness to mobilize people across communities to participate at the main constitution review exercise.

According to the participants, the constitution is the heart and soul of any nation, and it is what binds a people together.

One of the criticisms of the Nigerian 1999 constitution, is that it was foisted on the people by the military.

However, that alone seems not to be the only defect, as in the past decades, there have been several efforts by national conferences and the National Assembly to review and amend the constitution, to properly reflect the nation’s diversity and complexities.

A cross section of stakeholders at YIAGA Africa citizen’s roundtable on constitution review and electoral reform including a Professor of Political Science at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Lanre Adeyemi, said the electoral umpire INEC should be reformed by making appointment of the commission’s Chairman more inclusive to make the body more independent.

The Regent of Ibule soro in Ifedore local government area, Princess Moyinoluwa Falowo said the constitutional roles of traditional rulers should be clearly spelt out under the proposed Constitutional alterations.

A legal practitioner, Catherine Ogunjebi said steps should be taken to reduce to the bearest minimum violence against women and persons living with disability.

On their part, the Ondo State CAN chairman Reverend John Oladapo and representative of Muslim Community, Ustaz Olayemi Surajudeen are of the opinions that integrity of candidates vying for political positions needs to be examined in line with their financial capabilities and they must be God’s fearing.

Other participants added that culprits of electoral violence should be dealt with according to the law and not swept under the carpet.

The zonal public hearing on Constitution Review and Electoral Reform by the National Assembly is expected to hold across the six geopolitical zones with twelve centers on Wednesday, May 26 and Thursday, May 27 respectively including in Akure at the Dome International Event Centre.