The chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, has said that the National Assembly has done its best in the constitutional amendment by building consensus and getting inputs from the Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly.
Mr Onofiok Luke, who was a guest on Africa Independent Television (AIT) programme, Focus Nigeria, recently, spoke on the topic: Constitutional Amendment and State Houses of Assembly.
The chairman House Committee on Judiciary recalled his time as speaker of Akwa Ibom House of Assembly when the 8th National Assembly initiated a constitutional amendment that sought autonomy for the legislature, judiciary and the local government.
He said that he supported the amendment even when he knew it did not go down well with the governors.
Luke wondered why former governors who opposed autonomy for the legislature, judiciary and the local government are now advocates of autonomy as legislators.
According to him, “We should learn to be consistent in our advocacy and in the way we do things, not minding our positions today.
“In the meeting of the speakers’ forum and the Senate Adhoc Committee on Constitutional Amendment in the last amendment in the 8th Assembly, I saw governors with due respect to them, who never supported local government autonomy when they were governors but this time, the governors as senators are advocating local government autonomy.
“And I asked what changed? What changed between when you were governor, then you did not root for local government autonomy and did not root for autonomy of the legislature and autonomy of the state judiciary and now as a legislator, a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria you are nowrooting for this independence?”
The lawmaker defended his action as speaker of Akwa Ibom House of Assembly when he presided over the sitting that voted for autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary.
“I told myself that I am going to make sure that I leave a legacy along these lines. Anytime this issue of constitutional amendment will come, I will personally vote for these provisions.
“On the morning we were to vote, I called an executive session and I made it clear to my colleagues in the executive session. I said I am under pressure, I have been under intense pressure but this pressure will wane off. The highest that can happen to me, is for me to be removed from this office, but I want to leave a legacy that when my children will come, they would know that their dad stood very courageous to do the right thing when he was speaker. And I am conscious about my role in history when I might have finished in the public service that God has given to me,” Luke said.
He tasked former governors now in the legislature to find a synergy between them and serving governors to use the benefit of exposure they have as legislators to speak to their successors to see reasons to allow the provisions in theconstitutional amendments which will advance our democracy to stand.