By Adebayo Fajinmi
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello on Thursday has urged that submissions seeking amendment to the Nigerian 1999 constitution should be guided by the principles of national unity and peaceful co-existence of all citizens.
According to a press release signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Anthony Ogunleye, the minster said this in his goodwill message to the National Public Hearing by the Senate Committee on the review of the 1999 constitution in Abuja.
The minister who seized the opportunity to call on Nigerians to utilise the opportunity to strengthen national bond and cohesion, also proposed the inclusion of a new sub section immediately after Section 7(5) to read as follows: A: (6) The functions to be conferred by law upon the Area Councils may include those set out in the Fourth Schedule to this Constitution and, where so conferred, shall be performed outside the Federal Capital City(FFC) and such as may be designated from time to time by the Minister in charge of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
According to the Minister, the justification for this is that “ Section 7(5) as presently constituted gives room for duplicity of roles, conflicts and mismatches in planning provision of infrastructure and service delivery in the Federal Capital Territory.
While explaining further, the proposed amendment, he said is targeted at addressing the aforementioned problems and achieving harmony between FCTA and the Area Councils, noting that collaboration between the duo is necessary because FCT is a planned modern project with a centralised planning system.
In proposing amendment to section 301 of the Constitution, he posited that section 301(c) to read: ‘References to persons, offices and authorities of a State were references to the persons, offices, and authorities of the Federal Capital Territory Administration with the status, designation, and powers, respectively.
Justifying his submission, he said the present provision does not give full effect to Section 299 of the constitution, therefore, requires an amendment that will empower the FCT functionaries to discharge their statutory responsibilities.
While he proposed an amendment to the First Schedule Part 2 of the Constitution which is ” Amend Area Council Headquarters for Abuja Municipal from Garki to a town outside the Federal Capital Territory City, he submitted that “a definitive constitutional provision be made to ensure adequate and unhindered funding of the FCT through the creation of an FCT Infrastructure Development Fund.
Dovetailing his stance, Mallam Bello said this was important, considering the fact Abuja is home to an ever increasing number of Nigerians who have made the Territory their dwelling.