Home News Constitutional amendment must prioritise national integration – Speaker Abbas

Constitutional amendment must prioritise national integration – Speaker Abbas

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…Charges Nigerians to reject bigotry

By Chris Udochukwu

ABUJA – The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, Ph.D has said that national integration must be priotized in the ongoing constitutional amendment.

He also said that the legislative agenda of the 10th House is strategically designed to address the challenges that slow down the unity of the country and journey towards a ‘more perfect union’.

Speaker Abbas made the submissions while delivering a keynote address at the
National Integration Conference themed “Revisiting the National Question: Nigeria’s Elusive Search for National Integration” organized by The Kukah Centre at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre on Friday in Abuja.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Levinus Nwabughiogu made available to Precise Post in Abuja on Friday.

Represented by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Abbas said that Nigeria’s diversity can propel innovative solutions to the economic challenges bedeviling the country.

He said: “Nigeria’s pluralism, characterised by its vast diversity in ethnicity, language, and religion, offers a remarkable asset to the nation. Our cultural diversity can significantly enhance global diplomatic and economic relationships.

“The varied perspectives and skills stemming from this diversity can foster innovative solutions to economic and social challenges, driving sustainable development.

“The core of my keynote address here is to emphasise that embracing and leveraging this pluralism can propel Nigeria towards a more unified and prosperous future, where the collective strengths of its diverse population are fully harnessed.

“Herein lies the critical role of the legislature in promoting national integration. Lawmakers at both the national and sub-national levels are not only constitutionally mandated to represent the collective interest of all Nigerians and ensure that laws, policies and programmes of government recognise diversity and actively promote and protect it.

“In our legislative activities, we are committed to ensuring that the laws we
pass reflect our dedication to fostering national unity. Our legislative agenda in the 10th House is strategically designed to address the challenges that slow our unity and journey towards a ‘more perfect union’. As the people’s representatives, we will ensure strict adherence to constitutional provisions regarding federal character and affirmative action, ensuring equitable representation and resource allocation across all regions and geopolitical zones.

“Our ongoing constitutional amendment process aims to strengthen these mechanisms, promoting a more inclusive, fair, and just society. The House has already received several recommendations on strategies and measures for promoting national cohesion. I invite all stakeholders to share their ideas with us.

“Additionally, our committees have been empowered and mandated to prioritise matters related to national integration. The House, as Nigeria’s most representative body, is dedicated to leveraging the legislative process to promote harmony and cohesion. We aim to strengthen our national ties
and bridge existing divides through robust debates, consultations, and collaborations.”

Speaker Abbas also recalled that various deliberate attempts have been made by the government to promote national cohesion since independence.

“In the period since independence, several constitutional and national dialogues have been convened by successive administrations to address the complexities of diversity and inclusion. Initiatives like the National Political Reform Conference and various constitutional amendments have sought to create a more inclusive governance framework.

“A notable effort in this context is the Justice Uwais report, which emerged from the Electoral Reform Committee established in 2007. This report aimed to enhance the inclusivity and fairness of the electoral process, thereby giving a more equitable voice to Nigeria’s diverse population. Recommendations from the report included the establishment of more autonomous electoral bodies and mechanisms to ensure that all groups, including minorities, have fair political representation. These dialogues and reforms highlight an ongoing commitment to refining the political landscape to reflect better and serve Nigeria’s pluralistic society.”

Noting that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has priotized national healing and nation building, the speaker also asked Nigerians to reject bigotry and embrace tolerance and unity.

He added that the strength of the country is in its diversity, emphasizing that it is a strategic advantage to the nation.

“As noted by many commentators in the aftermath of the 2023 elections, the
greatest challenge facing our government under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, is managing diversity and rebuilding trust among Nigerians.

“The President has prioritised national healing and nation-building since assuming office. Addressing Nigerians in India during the G-20 Summit in September 2023, the President challenged Nigerians to harness the country’s rich diversity as a uniquely powerful tool for advancing prosperity and national development.
I am conscious of the fact that embracing diversity is not without challenges

“The strength of our nation lies in our ability to unite despite our differences. Our diversity should be our strategic advantage, making us more resilient, innovative, and cohesive as a nation. As your representatives, we pledge to continue promoting policies that foster integration, celebrate our diverse heritage, and build a stronger, more united Nigeria.

“I challenge us all as a people to reject bigotry of any kind and embrace
tolerance, empathy, and unity. By so doing, we can build a Nigeria where
every citizen is valued and empowered. Let us work towards a future united
by the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood in one strong, indivisible nation”, he said.

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