By Benjamin Arida//:
Former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has declared that grazing is essentially a state matter as contained in the constitution, saying “the laws are straightforward.”
This was even as he called for a meeting between the federal and state government officials on the matter with a view to resolving the impasse.
“If you look at the Constitution, the issue of grazing essentially should be a matter for the states because it has to do with land. Under the Land Use Act, which is part of our Constitution, the lands belong to the States and not to the Federal Government. So, when the states met and said, look, we don’t want open grazing, it was within the purview of their powers.
“I think we need to have a meeting at some point between the state officials and federal officials at some point instead of talking as if they don’t read anything in the constitution. We can’t be insulting ourselves in the pages of newspapers,” he stressed in a statement by his media adviser, Uche Anichukwu.
Ekweremadu, who was fielding questions from reporters in Enugu on the sidelines of the ongoing zonal hearing on constitution review exercise of the 9th National Assembly, however, said while a new constitution is possible and will become ultimately inevitable, the nation needs to amend the 1999 Constitution to create a provision for achieving that.
“I have heard the suggestions for a new constitution over and over again. Some say, bring back the 1960 Constitution; some say bring back the 1963 Constitution. Some others say, okay, why don’t we just throw away this constitution and bring a new one.
“However, there is no such provision to do so under our present Constitution, unless you are calling for anarchy. If you say we need a new constitution, the answer is simple. When other countries like Kenya and Brazil had a similar challenge, what they simply did was to amend the original constitution in order to make a provision for how a new constitution can be enacted. We (the National Assembly) did it the last time, specifically in the 7th Assembly; including making a provision for a referendum, but it was not accepted.
“So, we need to amend Section 9 on how we can create a new Constitution, including the issue of referendum, to be able to do that” he stated.
The lawmaker, who chairs the Enugu centre of the South East zonal hearing, also explained that creating an avenue for a new constitution would also help make the constitution more organised.
According to him, “We have done a whole lot of amendments, which many Nigerians don’t even know about. So, there is confusion already in differentiating what has been amended and what has not been amended. And it will only increase as we make more amendments. Even with ordinary Acts of the National Assembly, after several amendments or a far-reaching amendment, the usual and proper thing we do is to repeal and reenact the law.”