A Critique of the Constitution Alteration Process in Nigeria’s’ 7th and 8th National Assemblies

Ibrahim, Usman (2018-08)


Since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Nigeria has witnessed 3 successful Constitutional alterations. Secondly, during the regimes of President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan about two proposals for the Constitutional alterations failed. It was noted that the procedures adopted for these alteration processes are in one way or the other, the same. One fundamental problem that kept on re-occurring in all the processes is the manner of involving the public in the alteration process. The only time the National Assembly (NASS) attempted to get it right was in the 7th NASS alteration process where the House of Representatives used the methodology of Peoples Public Hearing. Under this methodology, the Hon Speaker of the House directed all members of the House to go back to their constituents to seek their opinion on each item of the Constitution that was being considered for the alteration. In an attempt to comply with the direction of the Hon. Speaker, the members centralized the hearing in a particular location of each constituency. The Senate on its part, adopted the methodology of town hall meeting, regional, and national public hearing and international visits to the advance democracies, and discussions with experts on Constitutional law and federalism was adopted. The Senate also set a secretariat for collection of all memoranda from the general public. In the 8th Assembly, the NASS reviewed the 7th Assembly proposal that failed together with CONFAB report without seeking the opinion of the general public. This research examines these problems and many more and makes a little comparison with the South African and Switzerland approaches of involving the public in the law making process and made recommendations on the way forward.