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