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    Senators dismiss call for new constitution, back amendment

    Some senators have dismissed the calls by individuals and groups for a brand new constitution, saying the amending of the 1999 Constitution will address grievances and challenges in the country.

    The senators, who spoke to our correspondent in Abuja, believed that it was not practicable to have a brand new constitution.

    Senators Gabriel Suswam , Gersom Bassey, Frank Ibezim and Opeyemi Bamidele expressed the opinions in separate interviews with our correspondent.

    Suswan insisted that it was possible to carry out the required amendments on the 1999 Constitution that would address the nation’s challenges.

    He said, “If you look at developed economies, constitutional amendment is a continuous process. Nobody calls for a brand new constitution anywhere.

    “What we need is a change of attitude of Nigerians. If you produce a brand new constitution, will that change Nigerians?

    “What I think is that we should be talking about change attitude and the sincerity in the implementation and interpretation of the constitution.”

    Bassey also said there was nothing difficult in amending the 1999 Constitution because the document was subject to amendments.

    He said, “I think that constitutions in most part of the world are living documents which means that they are continuously being amended as they are used.

    “I think the idea of sitting for a new constitution is not workable since we have a constitution that allows itself to evolve.

    “The amendments allow us to achieve the type of constitution that we desired. The argument of a brand new constitution is debatable.”

    Ibezim also disagreed with the idea of a new constitution, saying, “Constitution amendment enables people to review the state of the nation’s law.

    “Nigerians know their challenges. The ongoing constitution review is timely so as to tackle the challenges facing Nigeria.”

    Bamidele who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal matters said, “Nigerians who are calling for a brand new constitution are doing so based on their own assumption of what ought to happen.”

    “We cannot have a totally new constitution because the law does not grant us the power to do that. What Section 9 of the constitution grants us the power to do is amendment to the existing provisions.

    “However, part of the amendment that can be made is an amendment to Section 9 which has specified the mode of altering our constitution.

    “If it can be amended to provide for referendum by Nigerians that would make it possible for us to go for a new constitution, it is okay; but we have considered so many bills and we have concluded the national public hearing and we would start the process of compilation.

    “However, no single bill from any quarter in Nigeria has proposed an amendment to Section 9 of the constitution.”

    However, the Senator representing Osun East Senatorial District, Francis Fadahunsi, argued that the amendments being made to the 1999 constitution would not sufficiently address the challenges facing Nigeria.

    Francis Fadahunsi, said, “What the country need is a brand new constitution.”

    He pointed out that the current regime had enough time to organise a constitutional conference whose report could be adopted by the National Assembly as the constitution.

    He said, “When former President Goodluck Jonathan was in power, he organised a constitution conference but its report was not implemented by President Muhammadu Buhari.

    “Nigerians believe that trying to amend the 1999 Constitution is like a tailor trying to mend a rag.

    “The 1999 constitution is not a product of Nigerians; so we need a constitution that is produced by Nigerians and which they could claim ownership of.

    “The powers in the centre are too much. We should produce a brand new constitution. We should meet as a region.”

    Copyright PUNCH.

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