The objective is to add a referendum option to Section 9 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution as another method of amending the Constitution. The referendum is not for breaking up Nigeria but rather a means where Nigerians can bypass the President, National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly to come up with a new constitution or amendments. For example, Nigerians could call for a new Constitutional Convention in which the outcome of the Convention could become the new constitution.

How A Constitutional Convention Would Work

  1. Nigerians request their State Legislators to apply for a new Constitutional Convention
  2. Legislators of the states approve the application
  3. The National Assembly shall then call for a new Constitutional Convention if two-thirds of the State’s Legislators (24) apply for the new Constitutional Convention.
  4. Delegates chosen by States Legislators would attend the Convention
  5. Delegates would come up with a new constitution
  6. Nigerians in each state would then vote Yes or No for the new constitution.
  7. If people in 24 states pass the new constitution by a simple majority, it becomes the law of the land

As you might have noticed from above, the approvals of the National Assembly, State Houses of Assembly and the President are bypassed.

Currently, Section 9 provides the methods of amending the Constitution none of which includes the referendum option:-

Section 9 

(1) The National Assembly may, subject to the provision of this section, alter any of the provisions of this Constitution. 

(2) An Act of the National Assembly for the alteration of this Constitution, not being an Act to which section 8 (creation of states) of this Constitution applies, shall not be passed in either House of the National Assembly unless the proposal is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of that House and approved by resolution of the Houses of Assembly of not less than two-thirds of all the States. 

(3) An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of altering the provisions of this section, section 8 or Chapter IV (Fundamental human rights) of this Constitution shall not be passed by either House of the National Assembly unless the proposal is approved by the votes of not less than four-fifths majority of all the members of each House, and also approved by resolution of the House of Assembly of not less than two-third of all States. 

(4) For the purposes of section 8 of this Constitution and of subsections (2) and (3) of this section, the number of members of each House of the National Assembly shall, notwithstanding any vacancy, be deemed to be the number of members specified in sections 48 and 49 of this Constitution. 

None of the above methods of amending/changing the 1999 Constitution provides a bypass of the National Assembly, States Houses of Assembly and the President therefore the need to include one that does. The Nigerian people should have the ultimate sovereignty over the kind of government they want, and change it whenever they want.

The referendum amendment would empower Nigerians to make changes to the Constitution. This is the norm in advanced democracies.

In order to for this referendum amendment to become Law, we need to:-

  1. Find a House of Representatives Member or a Senator that would sponsor the bill
  2. Four-fifths of the National Assembly members to approve
  3. Two-thirds of all the State House of Assemblies (24) also to approve it
  4. The President to approve it.
  5. Then it becomes law

 

Once the referendum option becomes law, it is then up to us to use it.

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