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Reps to begin constitutional amendment in 2020 – Speaker

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the House will begin the process of amending the 1999 constitution in 2020, as well as the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).

The Speaker who said this at a retreat organised for chairmen of standing committees of the House organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) said both the constitution review and the PIGB are part of the bills that the House would prioritise in 2020.

He said the House will do everything within its powers to give Nigerians the best in terms of laws that would promote peace and good governance in the country.

He challenged chairmen of committees to work as a team with their deputies and members of the committees to achieve objectives set out in the House legislative agenda, stressing that Nigerians have high expectations on the Legislature, hence they must work hard to meet such.

He said “we have been elected at a time of great upheaval at home and abroad. We are confronted with great peril; oil prices have fallen and refuse to go back up, our population growth continues to outpace economic growth, we are besieged on all sides by rising insecurity and its consequences.

“How do we build an economy that is attractive to investment, that creates jobs to meet our present needs, and grows apace to meet future demands?

“How do we build a society where the weak are not afflicted by the powerful, where our differences of gender and tribe, religion and opinion are not weaponised to deprive any citizen of life, of liberty or the freedom to pursue happiness?

“How do we achieve the promise of greatness that so long ago caused the world to look upon us and say, here comes the giant of Africa? These are the questions that should engage our interests and animate our efforts because in the answer to these questions lies the best dreams we have for ourselves and the highest ambitions we hold for our country.”

He announced that the sum of N2 billion was approved in the 2020 budget by the National Assembly for the takeoff of a legislative library, saying the Legislature as the conscience of a nation needs a befitting library.

“Where it is the responsibility of the executive to implement programmes and execute projects, it falls to us to articulate through legislation, the broad objectives of our nationhood, and through oversight, hold the executive accountable to those objectives. The standing Committees you each lead are the principal instruments of legislation and oversight.

“Whatever we are, whatever we will achieve, and everything we will be remembered for in this House of Representatives depends on how well your Committees function and how effectively you serve as leaders of those Committees.

“Our ability to rise to the responsibilities of our offices are often constrained by institutional weaknesses that have been for too long left unaddressed. We are here to critically examine how we operate in the House of Representatives.

“Let us take full advantage of the opportunity provided by this seminar, away from the hassle and hustle of our offices to speak honestly about the deficiencies we have observed, identify the areas where we are lacking and consider the options available for reform.

“This is the first, necessary step towards achieving the other high objectives to which we have committed ourselves individually and as one House.

“Ensuring collaboration and cooperation amongst members of the Committees you lead is a sine qua non of effective Committee management. Keep in mind, that collaboration is not merely the absence of conflict or rancour.

“collaboration requires that you actively engage the experience and intellect of your members in problem-solving, policy development, policy implementation, monitoring and reporting.”

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