Members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday voted against a bill seeking to empower Nigerians to sue the government for failing to carry out its primary obligations to the citizenry on security, welfare, education and health, among others.
The legislation is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Make Justiceable the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy as Enshrined in the Constitution; and for Related Matters.’
Sponsor of the bill, Sergius Ogun, while leading the debate, said, “What this bill is basically saying is that the constitution should be amended so that people can take the government up when they fail to deliver on some of the basic objectives to the society.”
However, the Majority Whip, Mohammed Monguno, said the bill was a potential threat to public peace.
Monguno said, “If this bill is passed, it is an indication of chaos and anarchy. There is no state that will guarantee to the extent of allowing it to be justiciable putting food on every citizen’s table, or providing health care to every citizen to the extent that any failure or neglect on the part of the government will make the government liable. It is not achievable; it is utopian in nature.”
Another member, Herbert Hembe, however, disagreed with Ogun and Ossai.
The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the session, picked on a point made by Ogun that even if Nigerians don’t get favourable judgment, they should be allowed to sue the government.
Wase said, “I think you have watered down your argument…because if you are making a law that you know that at the end of the day, you are not going to have judgment in your favour or in favour of Nigerians, why are we then wasting our precious time?”
The Deputy Speaker then put passage of the bill for second reading to voice vote and it was unanimously rejected.