Nigerian Youth Call on NASS to unmask identities behind constitution review votes

A youth-focused civil society group, The League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN), which is one of the leading groups behind the Not Too Young To Run Campaign, has called on the leaderships of Nigeria’s Senate and House of Representatives, to reveal the identities of all legislators behind the constitution review votes concluded last week.

LEPAN, which launched its ‘1 Move’ campaign in an elaborate event in Abuja in 2016 to push for the reduction of age criteria for elective offices, made this demand in a press conference on Wednesday in Lagos.

The group’s acting president, Chukwudi Anyanwuocha, while delivering the press statement, commended Nigerian youths, the National Assembly, civil society, media and other stakeholders who contributed to the successful passage of the Reduction of Age Qualification Bill, promising to continue collaboration until the amendment finally becomes part of the constitution.

The group however expressed its shock and disappointment that some legislators voted against the passage of the bill in both houses, promising that it will lead the campaign for a more open legislature that will see the identities of lawmakers behind the constitution review votes made public.

LEPAN also expressed its dismay that both houses of the National Assembly failed to secure the passage of some crucial bills that have some bearing on the question of restructuring, noting that given the precarious state of the country arising from pervasive fractious and divisive agitations, the legislators missed a historic opportunity to heal the nation.

It singled out failed amendments in devolution of powers, state creation and boundary adjustment, indigeneship and citizenship, and deletion of the Land Use Act from the constitution, as the biggest misses by the National Assembly.

Reflecting on the current state of the nation, it called on the government to improve security, youth employment and unity through constructive engagement, while demanding for essential reforms that will impact socio-political and economic development in the country.

The civil society group listed its demands as follows:

“That the revelation of identity of voters be done forthwith, as it is at the heart of an open legislative process. Legislators are public officials and are expected to honour the principles of transparency and accountability!

“That all the state assemblies follow the lead of the national legislature by approving the amendment!

“That the president not hesitate in assenting to the amendment when it comes to his desk!

“That the National Assembly immediately activate the process for the reconsideration of these rejected bills, while also introducing a fiscal autonomy bill that was not part of the review process!

“That effort to ensure that the legislative process towards the removal of the NYSC scheme from the constitution be initiated forthwith!

“That there be speedy rescue of all abducted oil exploration workers in the Lake Chad Basin!

“That the federal government make good on its decision to suspend exploration work until nothing short of an unequivocal security clearance is provided!

“That the government reevaluate the decision to prospect for oil in the terror-ravaged region, ensuring that it is backed by a reliable study on economic viability and prospects!

“That government aggressively pursue innovation-driven initiatives that will address youth unemployment, and tap into the vast potential of Nigerian youths.

“That government develop a broad-based policy that will seek to reform education to meet today’s demands, remove regulatory barriers to free enterprise, expand access to business finance, incentivize entrepreneurship through grants and tax breaks, as well as make innovation-boosting infrastructures available such as industrial parks and technology hubs. These are the issues to be resolved in today’s knowledge economy!

“That all sides in the heated exchanges accentuating the nation’s fault lines, give serious thought to the impact of their declarations and activities, while also calling on government at all levels, especially at the centre, to begin constructive engagements forthwith. The country appears on the brink and counter-threats and promise of clampdowns will not serve. Nigeria needs a healing through an inclusive process of constructive engagement that confers an equal sense of belonging!

“That there be transparency from the president on his health, asking that his actual ailment and cost of treatment be made public. He is a public servant and this should ideally be a straightforward and non-controversial request!

“That campaign funding be readdressed to reflect the reality of the country’s electoral culture and history. The existing campaign ceilings in the Electoral Act are not tenable. This is one reason why regulating campaign spending is proving almost impossible. We call on the National Assembly to quickly address this through a thorough and empirical campaign spending analysis, and proceed to develop new ceilings reflective of this actual reality which will form part of a reviewed Electoral Act.

“That INEC be empowered beyond the letter of the law, to carry out its essential responsibility of ensuring fair play and a level playing field for political competitors. This can be done by mandating relevant bodies such as the CBN, EFCC and ICPC to support INEC by coordinating the tracking and monitoring of campaign spends.

“That internal democracy be improved in political parties, especially the leading parties, to prove their commitment to the Not Too Young To Run Campaign by ensuring that internal democracy is institutionalized in their parties to allow for an open and competitive democratic process. This will give young people a chance to make their case and seek votes as equals.

“That the recent appalling case of the Lagos State local election primaries where selective nomination of candidates was adopted by a major political party, triggering internal crisis, be prevented from recurring. We reject this culture of imposition which stifles free political choice!

“That the practice of demanding huge sums of money to purchase forms, and other associated demands, be reviewed immediately. To allow for a truly open process, taking into consideration the interests of young people, effort must be made to reevaluate this. Money should not be a barrier. We will push for this!”

To demonstrate its commitment to good governance and development in the country, LEPAN promised to promote well-researched and in-depth ideas and initiatives from its in-house think tank to decision-makers in the different arms of government, in order to improve policy formulation and administration in the country.

source: ripple nigeria

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