Constitution amendment: NLC warns against subverting people’s will
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday urged the House of Representatives to make public the report of the public sessions held in various constituencies on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
It said it fears there are moves to truncate the will of Nigerians articulated during the public hearings.
NLC President, Abdulwahed Omar, said in a statement: “We therefore demand that the House make the report of the Peoples’ Public Sessions held nationwide public immediately.”
It said the signal coming from the National Assembly, particularly the House, on the Constitution review is “quite disturbing.”
NLC recalled that a public session was to hold on January 31, but was abruptly postponed after members of the public had waited for about two hours for it to commence.
The workers’ body said the lawmakers should not let themselves be intimidated by selfish powerful politicians and forced to go against the people.
The NLC said: “While we hope that the National Assembly is not yielding to pressure from some quarters, particularly the Governors Forum which has been widely reported to be against some popular proposals on critical sections of the Constitution that most Nigerians advocated should be included in the new constitution, we reiterate our position that the new Constitution provides for full local government autonomy as expected in a federation.”
It said the Local Governments are closer to the people and it is only when they are fully independent that Nigerians can enjoy the benefits of democracy.
According to the NLC, rather than continue to tie the local governments to the whims and caprices of state governments, the Constitution should ensure funds meant for the councils go directly to them.
Besides, all funds and other resources generated by the local governments should be managed by the councils themselves and not the state governments, NLC said.
This, it added, is one way to deepen democracy in Nigeria and ensure a working federal system that will benefit the Nigerian people.
The statement added: “The Nigerian people were also united that labour and industrial relations matters must remain in the exclusive list as it is in the 1999 constitution and must not be tampered with as it is in the interest of industrial peace and the principles of tripartism which promotes transparency, fairness, and result oriented collective bargaining.
“We warn, that the National Assembly should not allow itself to be used to impose tenure elongation for any political office, including the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Office of Governor etc.
“Nigerians have consistently opposed this since it was fraudulently introduced to public discourse and legislative attention during the Obasanjo administration. We remain opposed to it and will resist any attempt to smuggle it into the report because Nigerians have consistently been opposed to it.
“We took interest in the proceedings of the People’s Public Sessions because we believed the leadership of the House which promised the Nigerian people that our shared views and presentations would not be supplanted with views and interests of a few politicians who wish that the resources and political direction of the country remain their exclusive preserve.
“The National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives should not allow itself to be held hostage by any political group or interest to mutilate the views and collective interests of the Nigerian people in the final report of the sessions held nationwide on the constitution amendment.
“The National Assembly should know that their commitment is to the Nigerian people as a whole and not the self interests of a few people or groups.
“This attitude of subjugating our collective interests has not been helpful in the delivery of good governance and anyone advocating for the sustenance of retrogressive and anti people provisions in the constitution must be regarded and treated as an enemy of the Nigerian people.
“The leadership of the House should be firm in its determination to promote democratic ideals and good governance, which the seventh House of Representatives have been able to demonstrate so far.”