The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says it has become necessary to review the extant definition of federal character in the Nigerian constitution.
According to Gbajabiamila, federal character , as presently defined in the constitution, is at variance with the country ’s realities, as the definition limits national opportunities to geographical location alone , without consideration for gender , persons living with disabilities and age classification .
The Speaker stated this in Abuja on Saturday , while declaring open the Young Parliamentarians Forum ’ s National Strategy Meeting and Retreat in Abuja , according to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity , Lanre Lasisi , titled ‘Gbajabiamila Moots Amendments to Federal Character Laws . ’
Gbajabiamila also challenged the young legislators on charting the course in preparation for the Nigerian youth to take the mantle of leadership at all levels of government in the country .
He said , “ 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.
“ In other words , the constitution says appointment and all those other things shall be based on federal character and we have the Igbo , Hausa and Yoruba . There should be a geographical spread. I think it is time that we expanded the definition of federal character because the character of a nation is not just based on your tribe . It is based on religion , where you are from , your sex and your age .
“ So, when you are talking about federal character , you look at all those things and they are what make up the federal character . You talk about the percentages of women and youth ; that is the true meaning of federal character and I think that is what should be reflected in the constitution .”