- Category: Politics
- Published on Tuesday, 19 October 2010 05:12
- Written by Admin
- Hits: 1072
Speaking at a one day public hearing on the amendment to the 1999 Constitution and the 1999 Constitution (First alteration) bill, Mark said May 29 must remain sacrosanct and cannot be changed.
He said, “I believe that on May 29 we stand. It is not a day that we are going to change. We are all working towards making sure that whatever can be done should be done within that time limit. That in my candid opinion is the timeline that is sacrosanct, we cannot get out of it, we must make sure that we conduct an election before that time.”
Mark however expressed worry with the proposed amendment which reduces the timeline for conduct of elections before tenure expiration, saying “When in the former amendment we gave not earlier than 150 and not later than 120 days, it was based on the Uwais report. We are suggesting, based on the recommendation in this new one, I think 90 days and 30 days. The danger at that let me say it, we must not miss the 30 days because if we do and there is a re-run, these are all the issues that you are going to discuss. We would not allow anything that would extend May 29.
“So that is where I have my own personal worries, as a person, as a participant, as a Nigerian and as a politician. But I am sure within this timeline now that we have given, because this suggestion is out of serious discussion with INEC and we should be able to conduct free, fair and credible elections within that time limit.”
Mark denied any move by the National Assembly to use the amendment process to bargain for political advantage, saying “We have no ulterior motive whatsoever, because there is general public perception and insinuation that the National Assembly members have ulterior motives in the constitutional amendment. We don’t have.”
In his presentation, National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu suggested that rather than alter the section of the Constitution that deals with the timeline, a transitional clause should be introduced to delay its implementation.
He said, “The proposal to substitute the words ‘One hundred and fifty days and not later than one hundred and twenty days before’ in Section 5, paragraph b, 10, paragraph b, 11 and 17 and paragraph b with the words ‘ninety days and not later than thirty days before’ should be made transitional to be effective only for the 2011 general elections.
“Nigerians desire that all elections should be conducted within a period and enough time given for all election petitions to be heard and disposed of before inauguration. It is important that we respect the wishes of our people.”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu said the committee is also at an advanced stage of considering the Electoral Act Amendment bill “to bring it in line with the proposed amendments to the Constitution.”
The National Assembly is expected to conclude amendments to enabling laws to allow INEC begin proper preparation to conduct general elections by April 2011.