House of Representatives on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, rejected a bill seeking to make the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy contained in Chapter two of the 1999 constitution enforceable on the government.
Titled “A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make justiceable the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy as enshrined in the Constitution; and for Related Matters”, the bill was sponsored by Sergius Ogun from representing Uromi federal constituency of Edo State.
The concerned provides thus: “Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority.
“Security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government and the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
“Composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria.
“There is need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few state or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.
“That the State shall provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods, and services throughout the federation and secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the federation.
“Government shall encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties and promote or encourage the formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistic, religious and or other sectional barriers.
“State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties and the State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.”
Leading the debate at the plenary, Ogun stated that the Bill sought to amend the constitution to give the judiciary powers to act on Section 6(c) of the constitution to enable Nigerians to sue the government if their fundamental rights become infringed on by the government of the day.
He explained that bill will ensure government provides essentials such as education and healthcare, adding that and even if people go to court; it does not automatically translate into compelling the courts to grant them victory over the government.
Also contributing, Ossai Nicholas Ossai stated that government needed to continue to be responsible for the social security and wellbeing of the people.
He called on members as representatives of Nigerians to ensure the passage of the Bill to protect the interests of Nigerians.
The nays have it
However, in his remarks, Mohammed Monguno, who lauded the spirit of the Bill for the aim of ensuring a free society, noted that the provisions of the Bill can be manipulated by mischief makers to create anarchy.
Monguno stated that passing the Bill as it was would make the government liable to the whims and caprices of anyone who was perceived to be aggrieved.
Similarly, Herman Hembe also opposed the notion of social security being justiciable and actionable in court, saying allowing it could lead to the collapse of the economy of the country.
He stressed that government was at liberty to provide social intervention when and where necessary, but not to be sued for not providing freebies.
On his part, the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase reminded Ogun that adequate government policies and agencies existed to ensure the rights of Nigerians were supplied to them.
Members voted against the passage of the bill for second reading, when put to a voice vote.
Meanwhile, at the committee of the whole, the House considered and passed the report of a bill for an act to repeal the Nigerian Postal Service Act, Cap. N127, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
And establish the Nigeria Postal Commission to make Comprehensive Provisions for the Development and Regulation of Postal Services; and for Related Matters presented by the Chairman, Committee on Telecommunications, Akeem Adeniyi Adeyemi.