Fresh hopes for more states in the South East zone of the country were rekindled at the weekend when a member of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, disclosed plan by the National Assembly to further amend the 1999 Constitution to make the nation’s laws better and address observed inconsistencies.
According to Ekwunife, representing Njikoka/Anaocha/Dunukofia Federal Constituency on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), if everything goes according to expectations, six new states may be created to bring the number of states in all the geo-political zones at par while the South-East with five states would get two more.
She said the House of Representatives was looking again at the Constitution because “it’s obvious there are some areas that require further amendment. The nation’s Constitution, being the foundation of all our laws, should be devoid of any inconsistency while areas that have become undesirable would be expunged”.
The lawmaker specifically pointed out Section 76, which she said, provided for 30 days within which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should organise re-run elections, saying it has evidently become impracticable and unrealistic hence, should be amended.
“It is obvious that 30 days is not going to be enough for INEC to do a good job. The commission itself said it required at least 60 days. So, to avoid a hurried job that would cause miscarriage of justice, it is then better to amend the law and allow INEC 60 days”, she said.
Ekwunife, who is the chairman, House Committee on Environment, listed some other areas the House deliberated on to include the percentage of women representation in national offices, the environment, especially the indiscriminate hoisting of telecommunications base stations/masts all over the villages and communities and erosion, flooding/oil pollution. Others are local council autonomy, separation of the Office of the Minister of Justice from that of the Attorney General of the Federation, operation of foreign accounts by public office holders and the need to create additional states to make the number at par in all the geo-political zones.
The lawmakers had in their just-concluded retreat in Port Harcourt, Ekwunife disclosed, critically appraised the trend in the states over the handling of local council affairs by the governors, noting that it has not helped the smooth operations within the third-tier of government, which is the nearest to the common man.