Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege has said there was no funds allocated for Constitution Review in the 2021 Budget.
Omo-Agege who doubles as Chairman, Senate Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution disclosed at a briefing in Abuja, on Monday.
Omo-Agege the situation notwithstanding, the committee has sufficient funds to carry out the exercise, saying it was still operating its 2020 budget.
He expressed optimism that funds would be voted for the exercise in the supplementary budget expected to be transmitted to the National Assembly in no distant time.
The Committee has scheduled zonal public hearing in 12 states across the six geopolitical zones to commence on Wednesday this week.
He insisted that the Bills to be collated from the public hearings will be voted on and passed by the Senate in July 2021 before the lawmakers embark on their annual vacation.
On whether paucity of funds has been responsible for the slow pace of work by the Committee and how the situation may likely affect the target of the panel to deliver on its mandate before the July recess for members of the National Assembly, Omo-Agege said the committee does not lack funds.
“In 2021 budget, we have not received an appropriation yet due to some oversight so we are still working on the 2020 budget and we are hoping that during the supplementary exercise we will be accommodated
“I can tell you categorically that we have no challenge with paucity of funds. I was actually answering a question as to how much was appropriated (for the review exercise) in 2021. The answer again is that there was no appropriation for 2021.
“We are still awaiting the supplementary budget. So we are operating the 2020 budget but we have enough for our work.
“We have not been hampered in any way and we believe we have enough resources to carry out this exercise.
“Whether or not we are taking a vote this July, as I believe, we will. It is not a function of how much money we have,” Omo-Agege said.
He added: “You must understand, this is not the only committee in Senate but it is the largest committee.
“I think the membership spans about 68 members. Taking that into account we have to accommodate the other committees and their assignments as well so as not to pull everybody away.”
On whether comments recently credited to Senate President Ahmad Lawan on calls for restructuring will not influence the views of the Committee in the aspect of restructuring, Omo-Agege said: “Constitution review is a major plank of the 9th Senate’s Legislative Agenda and I can assure you that Senator Ahmad Lawan is not against anything, he is not against restructuring.
“Restructuring is just one aspect of several aspects of this Constitution review and it also depends on what you mean by restructuring and who is speaking to that.
“I can assure you that the Senate President has not taken any position, he is entitled to his views like any of us.
“He is in support of what I am doing and you can take this to the bank that we will have an exercise that the Nigerian people will be glad.”
On whether the current review exercise will not end up like past ‘jamborees’, Omo-Agege expressed optimism that President Buhari will assent to the Bills when they are transmitted.
“The exercise is not a jamboree, it will be incremental. By the time we succeed in this exercise, God willing, it will be the 5th alteration.
“We borrowed our system from the United states, even the US continues to amend their constitution and I think the last time I checked it was about 27 amendments.
“What that tells you is that from the outset the framers of our constitution knew they were not giving a perfect document.
“Nobody ever has a perfect document, that is why they still do incremental amendment and that at some points, they will be near perfection.
“Section 9 of our Constitution also anticipated that a time will come where there will be several agitations questioning some issues in the constitution and how we should address that.
“We believe that we have assembled the best brains to do this job and have provided the only mode for the alterations of the Constitution. All they provided for is incremental alterations.”