Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has appealed to Nigerians with pending issues for constitution review not to lose hope.
Lawan said the doors of the National Assembly are still open for further engagement on issues that had not passed with the last exercise.
He spoke in Abuja while receiving in audience members of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria led by the Etsu Nupe, HRH Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar.
HRH Dr Yahaya Abubakar who is the Chairman, Coordinating Committee for the Council said their mission was to appeal to the Senate to reconsider it’s position on the need to accord constitutional recognition for the roles of the traditional Institutions in governance.
The issue of formal recognition of the roles of traditional rulers was deliberated upon recently during the review of the Nigerian Constitution by the National Assembly but it was not passed by the Senate.
Responding to the plea by the Royal fathers, the Senate President commended them for their approach and belief in the democratic Institutions particularly the parliament.
“This occasion specifically is for our Royal fathers to come back and appeal to the National Assembly to reconsider the issue of the reinstatement of the previous status of the traditional Institution in the Nigerian constitution.
“Individually, most of us in the National Assembly believe that our traditional Institution must have some formal functional role to play in the governance system of Nigeria and the belief is, when the traditional Institution had some roles officially recognized, they performed their functions very well.
“They helped particularly in the security apparatus and architecture. And some of us believe that the removal of the traditional Institution from any formal role can also be a factor to what we experience today in our country.
“It is not enough that when something happens, something that we do not desire, then we run to our traditional Institution. Most of us believe that there must be a well defined non-executive adversary roles for our traditional Institution. I think that’s not asking for too much. That is fair,” Lawan said.
Recalling the recent constitution review exercise in the Senate, Lawan said: “The D-Day came. And the voting took place and the rest is history, as they would say. We all feel sad but then that is democracy.
“But what you have done today is to take democracy to Nigerians because what you have done today is to show your belief in the parliament, the National Assembly, and you have given an example to the rest of Nigerians that, never lose hope because your request failed. So many things failed. Of course many more passed because we have casualties in our bills.
“And I am taking the opportunity of this event to appeal to other Nigerians, either the individuals or Institutions, organizations, NGOs, CoS and so on, if there was anything that you wanted done or passed during the constitution amendment exercise, the latest one, and it failed, hope should not be lost.
“We are still around and this parliament is the people’s parliament. It is the only parliament that can kick-start the process and therefore, people can still come back and remind us about their issues and maybe we change our strategies, the lobbyists and maybe we look at why it failed and how it can pass.
“So I believe that you have made a very strong statement. That you believe in the democratic Institutions of this country particularly the parliament and I want to assure you here that the process of constitution review is a continuous process.
“We finished a phase and we can have another phase. The bottom line is that you have taken the right decision by coming back to say you still want your issue of reinstating the roles of the traditional Institution in the governance system of our country taking in the next round of constitution amendment by the National Assembly.
“And I want to assure you that this message, this reminder will be taken to the Senate and we will find out why we became 10 votes short because we needed 73 out of 109 and we got 63. That means we were short by 10 votes. So we will try to find out what went wrong.
“There is so much to gain from traditional Institution. At the risk of sounding supportive of the traditional Institution, I think no Nigerian in any leadership position at any level will deny the fact that the traditional Institution, even today, play some significant roles in stabilizing our environment.
“Let me assure all Nigerians through this event that our doors are open. What our Royal fathers have done today is to show the example of how we do things and get things done here.
“It is not by blocking the gates of the National Assembly that makes the National Assembly to work. Engage the members of the National Assembly. You can do so through your constituents, Distinguished Senators or members of the House of Representatives. You can use various avenues to reach out to the National Assembly with your issues and we are here on behalf of all Nigerians.”