The Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman, Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has advised groups agitating for state creation to reach out to elected representatives and groups from other geopolitical zones in the country.
Omo-Agege gave the advice on Wednesday when the apex socio-cultural umbrella body of Urhobo people, Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) paid him a courtesy visit at his office.
The lawmaker urged his kinsmen to get the buy-in of other legislators and groups, especially as they are key in determining if such demands will see the light of the day in the ongoing constitution amendment exercise.
He said: “Let me also make this clear that the constitutional review exercise is not a tea party by any means. It is a very tedious exercise. If you check Section 9 of the Constitution, it lays out a very difficult procedure that you must go through before you can achieve success concerning the amendment.
“I don’t know what is in your submission but what I hear from the grapevine is that there is a likelihood that UPU is asking for a state. If that is right, I am sure you also know the provisions of Section 8 of the Constitution. That is even more tedious than every other procedure because unlike other sections of the Constitution that recognises a constitution amendment bill to pass with a two-thirds majority of both chambers here and a two-third majority of the state assembly, for state creation, which is under Section 8, it requires four-fifths of majority. Even more majority than the regular two-third.
“But that is not to say it is impossible. If the demand is genuine and legitimate, there is no reason why it should not succeed. But you have to do the needful. You have to reach out to others. You have to lobby as to why this should be the case.
“As the Chairman of this committee, I am not supposed to take a position. You have to reach out to people, different geopolitical zones and make your case. If they see the merit in your argument, then they could, acting through their members in the House of Representatives and Senate, go with you and vote in support. You have to go out and lobby. You don’t stay at home and they reward you with a free state. It is only in the military that states are created by Fiat. But under democratic set up in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the procedures are well laid out under Section 9 of the Constitution.
“So I like to believe that before making this submission, I assume you have your Legal Adviser in the UPU who may have taken you through some of the processes that you have to go through. But as for us in the National Assembly, you can always count on our support because you sent us here”.
He assured the UPU representatives that federal lawmakers from the area would not any support anti-Urhobo legislation in the National Assembly.
“As the representative of the people, we recognise and acknowledge that sovereign power resides with the people at home. They were the ones who sent us here. Without them, there will be no Deputy President of the Senate. There will be no member representing Okpe/Sapele/Uvwie Federal Constituency, nor will there be a member representing Ughelli North/Ughelli South/Udu Federal Constituency. So, power resides with our people,” he said.
Omo-Agege added that “The consequence of that is that we will do what our people want. We will do what is expected of us. We will be guided by the content of your submission”.