Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has attributed the failure of the devolution of powers bill in the National Assembly to hate speeches, suspicions that it was another attempt at restructuring and mistrust among Nigerians.
He however gave a glimmer of hope that the bill still stood a chance of being passed, as part of the amendment to the 1999 Constitution when the resumption of both chambers of the National Assembly from the annual recess.
Speaking in Ilorin when he received a delegation of the #NotTooYoungToRun# group in the state, Saraki said, the defeat of the devolution of powers bill can be attributed to the current wave of hate speeches across the country and the current mistrust among Nigerians also contributed to the defeat of the bill.
According to him, stakeholders misunderstood the intent of the proposed amendments in the bill opining that it was a clever way of introducing restructuring, which they were not ready to support without proper consultations with their constituents.
His media office in a statement quoting him said, “As you know, we have three senators representing each state and one from the FCT and they all represent their constituencies and whatever they do there, they must engage with and get feedback from their constituencies.
“I believe that if this constitutional amendment had come maybe eight months ago, the devolution of powers bill would have passed easily.
“But I think we must be honest with ourselves that presently there is a lot of mistrust in the country at the moment; the air is very polluted and let us be very frank, that blame must go all round; whether it be the politicians, or opinion leaders, socio-cultural group leaders and some others who are running commentaries and even some of you in the media who sometimes write stories that amplify hate speeches and points of view that are inaccurate.
“And I think what happened was that a lot of of our colleagues misread or misunderstood or were suspicious of what the devolution of powers to states was all about; whether it was the same thing as restructuring in another way or attempt to foist confederation on the country or to prepare the ground for other campaigns now going on in the country.
“And they made a lot of appeal that they had not consulted with their constituencies and you can see what is happening; there was a meeting in Kaduna yesterday where it was clear that certain parts of the country wanted more time to understand what restructuring is all about before joining the discussion.
“So it is clear that not all Senators were on board. My own advise; we have spoken a lot with the Senators because we cannot bully them or stampede them, because at the end of the day, this country belongs to all of us.
“You cannot hassle me out of the country. Neither can I hassle you out. What we must do is dialogue; reassure each other and let people understand that this concept is for the purpose of making a modern Nigeria; that it is not going to in any way undermine any part of the country.
“Nothing is foreclosed in this exercise; you don’t foreclose passage of bill. We must have a good understanding of how parliament works.
“It is not foreclosed. It has been defeated as at today but it does not mean that it would be defeated when it comes tomorrow.
“The gender bill was defeated in the bid to include it in the constitution but what was not reported in the media is that the sponsors got a victory in that they got an undertaking from members that what was defeated would be included in the Gender Opportunity bill.
“That was something that would not have happened before. So the fact that devolution of powers to state lost that day does not mean that after the recess, if a lot of consultations are done again it will not scale through.”
The#NotTooYoungToRun group, led by its state coordinator, Olasupo Abideen, visited Saraki to express gratitude over the passage of the NotTooYoungToRun bill and solicit his support for the remaining parts of the proposal by the Joint Committee on Constitutional amendment to make the amendment a total success.
Olasupo thanked Saraki and members of the 8th Senate for their interest in the future of the youth which made them to pass the bill.
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