The Senate in session

In a rare admittance on Tuesday, the Senate conceded to “forgetting” to make budgetary provisions for an expected second round of constitution review, a failure it blames for the  long delay the exercise had seen since last year.

Senate Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, said the senate failed to remember capturing the cost of the exercise in the preparation of the 2011 budget, leaving the exercise unattended to for nearly a year.

The first successful review of the constitution ended late 2010, ahead of the 2011 general elections, whose conduct formed the bulk of the amendments.

New contentious areas in the constitution and the Electoral Act that derived from the elections were to be reviewed for possible amendments.

The Senate and the House of Representatives last year named committees for the fresh round of work, with each committee proposing meetings that hardly held.

Mr. Ndoma-Egba said the whole exercise was frustrated throughout last year because the National Assembly “forgot” to earmark funds for the crucial review, in an unusual frankness that appeared to give support to widely held view of the lawmakers  spending more on themselves than on their lawmaking mandate.

“I know the duty of the National Assembly is to appropriate for the nation” Mr. Ndoma-Egba told a delegation of the Nigerian Bar Association, led by chairman, Joseph Daudu Tuesday. “But we forgot to appropriate money for the constitution review. That is why it looks seemingly that work on the review has been slow.”

While the constitution review was left out that year, the lawmakers injected more funds into their routine running cost, lifting the amount to N240 billion, the highest figure yet.

The amount was later reduced to less about N150 billion, amid dwindling budget funding that forced a broad reduction.

Both chambers budgeted N1 billion apiece for the exercise in 2010. Mr. Ndoma-Egba said the 2012 budget will capture provisions for the review.

“That should be done this time around,” he said.





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