By Nkechi Ikenwoke
Pressure groups and stakeholders at the South-South Zonal public hearing on the review of the 1999 Constitution have canvassed for the devolution of power, increased political participation of women and 100 per cent derivation of oil revenue.
The Bayelsa, Delta and Edo State Governments and contingents demanded a thorough review of the 13 per cent oil derivation to the oil producing states.
During the public hearing session, President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof. Ben Ogele Okaba, supported by Prof Sam Ukala, who spoke on behalf of Delta, told the Constitution Review Committee, led by Senators James Manager (Delta), alongside other Senators; Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta), Serieke Dickson (Bayelsa), Biobarakuma Degi (Bayelsa), Matthew Urhoghide (Edo), Francis Alimikhena (Edo) and Moses Clopas (Bayelsa), that the 1999 Constitution was skewed to shortchange the oil bearing states of the Niger Delta Region.
They declared that the sharing formula as enshrined in the amended constitution has become obsolete to the reality of the current day Nigeria, stating that a 100 per cent control of resources should be considered for the owners.
“The 1999 Constitution is the greatest injustice ever done to Ijaw ethnic nationality. It is satanic document. We demanded 100 per cent control of our resources in the reversed constitution” he said.
He also canvassed for the creation of four additional states from existing South- South states to correct the lopsided federal structure in the country.
More so, women mobilised from various umbrellas, including the 100% Lobby Women for Democracy and the National Council for Women Societies (NCWS) participating in politics, under the United Nations Charter, said the collective togetherness of Nigeria would depend largely on the outcome of the constitutional review.
The group said the 35 per cent affirmative action benchmark in politics had been irresponsive in the amended 1999 Constitution.
Spokesperson of the group, Dr Mrs Joyce Ogwuezi stressed that all-inclusive spirit must be registered in the review, maintaining that certain sections of the constitution must be changed or reamended to stop gender inequality.
She also said Sections 48/49 must be reviewed to accomodate additional senatorial districts at the national assembly for all states to be occupied by a woman each.
“Since 2015, the 35 per cent benchmark for the affirmative action for women in politics drastically dropped below 10 per cent.
The envisaged new constitution must truly reflect the yearnings and aspirations of the Nigerian women for their representation in politics.”