By Edemobong Ekpe
Former Senate Leader and the last substantive Chairman of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has called for national conversation or consensus around where we should go as a nation.
According to him, “we must restructure one way or the other.”
Speaking in an interview by telephone with journalists in Calabar he noted that “whatever restructuring means to anyone, one thing is common, you cannot achieve it without constitutional amendment.”
He maintained that Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution provides not only for the amendment of the constitution but the mechanics for same.
“In summary you require two thirds of each of the Chambers of the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives before any amendment can pass. Furthermore, it has to be approved by a resolution of not less than two thirds of each State House of Assembly and by at least two thirds of the Houses of Assembly.”
“Clearly, for any amendment to pass, a near national consensus must have been reached. The constitution does not provide how that consensus can be reached. Therefore the process of arriving at that consensus has to be outside the constitution. It has to be a conversation that will involve everyone more so as the powers of the National Assembly to amend the constitution are severely circumscribed.”
He further noted that “politics should be about the Economy; how to better it, and not the economy being about politics.”
“If one should be sacrificed at the altar of the other it should be politics being sacrificed at the altar of the economy and not the other way round. As ultimately the business of government is the security, welfare and wellbeing of the citizens.”
He regretted the failure in the current structures in the country that noting that the Federal Government has been over burdened.
“The local government system across the country has completely collapsed leading to increased migration from the rural communities to state capitals overstretching infrastructure and facilities beyond limits. The structure is no longer working. We are at the point of structural implosion more so as the economy has lost its productive capacity. Manufacturing is grounded and the economy, absorptive capabilities are zero and unemployment soars by the day. Social infrastructure has collapsed, social indices are unimpressive and all these are reflective in the security situation and the value of the Naira. Things will only get worse if we insist on retaining the current structure. We have to go back to the drawing board; we must restructure one way or the other.”
He acknowledged that the Nationally Assembly is severely constrained in matters of constitutional amendment. “The process can only be facilitated by National consensus building which will require everyone.” On the current level of insecurity in the country the former Senate Leader said, “You cannot isolate the issue of security. It is interwoven with the state of the economy, the state of our social infrastructure, our social indices, equity, justice and inclusiveness, the state of general well being of the citizenry and the level of participation in the resources and opportunities of the country by all irrespective of tribe, religion or gender. To adequately address the issue of security you must go back to the causative factors and address them holistically.”