The Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution (Amended), Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has called for Youths involvement in the governance of this Country.
The Senator made this known when he featured in a ChannelsTV program, Politics Today. He stated that as a presiding officer, he has not taken position on any of the sponsored bills seeking to amend the Constitution, except for the Bill he sponsored for the Federal and State Governments to set aside 30% of the membership of the Federal Executive Council for youths as well as 40% of membership of the State Executive Council for youths between 25-30yrs of age.
Explaining further, the DSP said “we want to capture the very essence of our youths and the reason we’re doing this is that we have this belief, arising from the EndSARS protests, I have taken a position that I would rather have these youths sit down in the Federal Executive Council, sit down in the State Executive Council of the various States, than having them go protest at the Lekki toll gate. Continuing, Senator Omo-Agege said
“If you go to Rwanda today, the Minister of Digital Communications is 19yrs old, a very talented young man and he’s really excelling; and I don’t see why we should keep these youths away from Government; and these are people that constitute about 70% of our population today. For most of us here in the National Assembly and in governance today, we belong to the remaining 30%… the dying generation or whatever; so they own this Country.
It is my belief that they’re better off participating in decision-making on matters that affect the well-being of this Country because, it’s their country. In a couple of years, we are going to be out of the way and the earlier we expose them to these positions, the better …”
In his response to calls from some sections of the society for an entirely new Constitution, the Delta-Central Senator explained that Section 9 of the existing Constitution does not allow or empower the National Assembly to throw away the Constitution and create a brand new one. According to him, “What Section 9 of the Constitution envisages, and indeed what it thus says is that we can alter any provisions of the Constitution, it doesn’t say we can alter all of the provisions of the Constitution”.
Omo-Agege explained further that to draft an entirely new Constitution, Section 9 of the existing Constitution will have to be amended and that “for you to amend Section 9 of the Constitution, you’ll require 4/5th votes in the Senate, which is about 88 Senators out of 109 and you’ll require about 288 Members of the House of Reps, out of 360.”
Asked why it is difficult to get the Section 9 amended, Senator Omo-Agege said “if you need Section 9 amended, you’ll have to come forward with a Bill to that effect; as I speak to you, we’ve received more than 350 memoranda on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution and not one, not one is requesting for an amendment of Section 9…”. He admitted that the processes laid down for the amendment of Section 9 are very cumbersome. The Lawmaker therefore called on those agitating for a brand new constitution to mount pressure on their representatives to push for such a far-reaching amendment.
The Urhobo Senator stated categorically that “under the extant Constitution, the only thing we are permitted to do is incremental amendments or alterations”.
He however cautioned that whatever amendments or alterations or new creation that is sought or proposed about the Constitution, such proposals should be one that emphasizes one united, indivisible and progressive Nigeria.
He assured Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari will not disappoint in giving assent to the amendments when the process is concluded.