Forum hosts roundtable on constitutional reform in Nigeria

Participants at a recent Nigerian roundtable on constitutional reform listen to an address from Ike Ekweremadu (standing), the Deputy President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

From left to right Prof. Richard Joseph, Forum President George Anderson, Senator Ekweremadu, Prof Julius Ihonbvere, Shawn Houlihan, the Forum’s Director of Africa Programs and Udo Jude Ilo, the Forum’s Nigerian consultant.

Nigerian and international federalism experts met in Abuja recently for a roundtable discussion on constitutional reform for the country, the most populous in sub-Saharan Africa.

The two-day event explored federal issues relevant to the current constitutional review in Nigeria. The roundtable was organized by the Forum in collaboration with the National Assembly of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s constitution, which took effect May 29 1999, has been criticized by some for primarily protecting the interests of the military. It was derived from the previous 1979 constitution, which was prepared by a committee composed of officials appointed by the military. The hefty document was never formally ratified.

Senator Ekweremadu opened the roundtable, an event where participants identified key federal issues in the Nigerian constitution, priority areas for intervention and comparative perspectives.

A group of 35 Nigerian experts and five international counterparts took part, including Forum President George Anderson; Prof Julius Ihonbvere of Nigeria, a Forum board member and member of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta; Richard Joseph, of Northwestern University and the Brookings Institute (USA); Rotimi Suberu, of the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) and Bennington College (USA) and Koller Heinrich of the University of Basel, Switzerland.

At the conclusion of the roundtable gathering, participants debriefed key members of the Senate Constitutional Reform Committee on the event and provided an interim report. Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu thanked the Forum for its efforts and pledged to work with the final report when it is delivered.

The event, held in Abuja on July 7 9, 2009, was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.

Participants discuss Nigerian constitutional reform at a Forum roundtable in July 2009.

Participants discuss Nigerian constitutional reform at a Forum roundtable in July 2009.

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