Gbajabiamila considers amendment to Federal Character Laws

A file photo of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, at a meeting in Abuja.

The Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila has opined the need to review the extant definition of Federal Character in the Nigerian constitution has become more pertinent.

Gbajabiamila made the remark on Saturday while declaring open the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) National Strategy Meeting and Retreat in Abuja.

“In thinking outside the box, I think we should consider an amendment in the constitution to the definition of Federal Character because when we talk about Federal Character within the context of appointments, infrastructure and the rest of it in the constitution, Federal Character as it is, is limited to where you are from, like your ethnicity,” he told the gathering.

He added, “In other words, the Constitution says that appointment and all those other things shall be based on Federal Character and Federal Character as we know it now, we have the Igbos, we have the Hausas, the Yorubas; there should be a geographical spread.”

According to the lawmaker, the Federal Character is at variance with the nation’s realities as it limits national opportunities to geographical location alone without consideration for gender, persons living with disabilities, and age classification.

He challenged young legislators on charting a course in preparation for the Nigerian youth taking the mantle of leadership at all levels of government in the country.

The speaker believes it is time to expand the definition of Federal Character because the character of a nation is not just based on tribe but on religion, ethnic background, gender, and age.

“So, when you are talking about Federal Character, you look at all those things and they are what make up the Federal Character,” he said.

Gbajabiamila commended the YPF for the initiative of taking up youth matters and challenged the young lawmakers on proffering answers to some pertinent questions.

The Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Olatunde Ojo, on his part, stated that there was no better time than now for the retreat considering the nationwide youth restiveness that followed the #EndSARS protests.

He also urged the group to chart a result-oriented course that would be of benefit to Nigerian youths.

In his welcome address, the Chairman of YPF, Kabir Tukura, noted that the forum visited the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and Gbajabiamila and it was agreed that the forum should come up with a white paper to be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Tukura added that Nigerian youths deserve a voice in the country and deserved to be heard and treated fairly.

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A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.