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Constitution to undergo changes after ongoing National Assembly review

Published by Guardian on Thu, 09 May 2013

THE National Assembly may push items on the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List or Residual List in the on-going Constitution review.This revelation was made known in Lagos by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, at the 11th year Anniversary and Annual Lecture of Crusade for Justice held at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos.Speaking on the theme: 'Oil and Gas, Human Rights and the Nigerian State: An Overview', Tambuwal, who was represented by Adekunle Adeyemi, stated that 'If the Senate goes along with members of the Federal House of Representatives, some of the items listed under the Exclusive List of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria may be pushed to Concurrent List in the on-going review of the Constitution by the National Assembly.According to him, 'On this issue of the on-going review of the constitution, we are working to ensure that all items on the Exclusive List are pushed to the Concurrent List and if possible, to the Residual List'.He further stated that the House of Representatives has always been on the side of the people on matters of importance to them and would continue to be on the side of the people and what the Crusade for Justice stands for.Also speaking at the event, Dr. Yemi Oke of the Post Graduate School, University of Lagos, in his paper titled: 'Oil and Gas, Human Rights and the Nigerian State: Right-Based Approach to Energy Governance in Nigeria', stated that the controversies generated by the 10 per cent share proposed for the resource-bearing communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), further reveal a lack of congruent framework to ensure fairness in the distribution of gains derived from the exploitation of oil and gas and other natural resources in the country.Oke further explained that the nature of Nigerian state is such that a development strategy anchored on exploitation or utilisation of natural resources may hardly produce a win-win situation between local owners of the resources and other stakeholders due to the current political economy of impunity in resource utilisation, which results in inequitable and socially unjust distribution of the resources.According to him, unless there is a clear departure from the existing political order, the violation of human and environmental rights may continually pitch the oil-producing communities against operators, especially the multinational corporations.'Abject poverty, violent clashes, kidnappings, extortions, over-invoicing, subsidy fraud and other despicable ills characterised the oil and gas sector of Nigeria'.He added: 'These social ills manifest vividly not only in the oil- bearing communities, which produced virtually all of Nigeria's crude oil but also on the generality of Nigerians'.Oke suggested that there is need for re-thinking of resource rights in the country for a functional approach to effectuating the provisions of the law to be adopted to ensure that resource right provisions in the constitution, statutes and other international instruments ratified and adapted by Nigeria form the basis for legally enforceable resource based human rights by seeking judicial and other administrative remedies in the country as practised in other nations.He noted that Nigerian statutes are replete with abuse and inactive rights provisions in terms of natural resources ownership management.He stressed that the injustice inherent in non-justiceability of the provisions of Chapter Two of the Constitution on Fundamental Objective and Directive Principle of State Policy has continued to pitch the resource-bearing communities against government and resource exploiting companies in the country, like Shell and other major oil companies in Ogoni land.He recommended that the country should adopt the Ghana model of resource control that 'promotes a form of partnership between large-scale miners and small-scale (artisanal) miners', adding that the sustainability benefit of a peaceful and harmonious stakeholders' co-existence that goes with this is lacking in Nigeria.The university teacher argued that the energy sector of Nigeria has been bedevilled with high level of corruption that has defied all known solutions.However, President and Founder of the Crusade for Justice, Mr. Richard Nwankwo, in his opening remarks quoting a United States Institute of Peace (USIP) report, titled: 'Blood Money in the Niger', said the country lost over $100 billion to crude oil thefts between 2003 and 2008.He added that about 150,000 barrels of crude are stolen daily at the rate of $111.92, adding that 'this translates to about $16.788 million daily and $6.14 billion yearly', among other crimes.Nwankwo, therefore, suggested life sentence for those who are found involved in the crime, not only should they be made to forfeit their loot.
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