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Constitution amendment:Senators reject devolution of powers, state creation

July 27, 2017

Senators yesterday voted against the devolution of powers, 35 percent affirmative action for women and approved 29 amendments to the 1999 Constitution.

The lawmakers also rejected removal of Land Use Act from the Constitution and state creation/boundary adjustment, during a 3-hour electronic voting on the amendments.

Out of 33 provisions, only four were rejected, as the required 2/3rd requirement of 73 senators was not met. During the voting 97 out of the 108 Senators (Anambra Central vacant) were in attendance.

The senators however overwhelmingly voted in support of alteration to sections 4, 51, 67, 68, 93 and 109 of the Constitution.

The sections provide for immunity for members of the legislature and obligate the President to attend a joint meeting of the National Assembly, once a year to deliver a state of the nation address.

The Federal lawmakers voted in support of the amendment of the Third Schedule to include former Presidents of the Senate and Speakers of the House of Representatives in the composition of the Council of State.

They threw their weight behind the amendment of sections 58, 59 and 100 “To resolve the impasse, where the President or Governor neglects to signify his/her assent to a bill from the National Assembly or withhold such assent. This is to enable timely passage of laws for good governance.”

The lawmakers fixed 30 days timeframe within which the President or a Governor shall forward to the Senate or State House of Assembly, names of nominees for confirmation as Ministers or Commissioners with portfolios.

Also approved was the Bill, which seeks to alter section 147 of the Constitution to provide for the appointment of a Minister from the FCT, Abuja to ensure that the FCT is represented in the Executive Council of the Federation.

On Independent Candidature, the Senators voted in support of alterations of sections 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the Constitution, to expand the political space and broaden the options for the electorate by allowing for independent candidacy in all elections.

They also approved the change of name of the Police from “Nigeria Police Force” to “Nigeria Police” to reflect their core mandate.

The Senators amended section 315 of the Constitution, to delete the National Youth Service Corps Decree, the Public Complaints Commission Act and the National Security Agencies Act from the Constitution, so that they can be subject to regular process of amendment.

On age for elective offices, the lawmakers approved the alterations of Sections 65, 106, 131, 177, to reduce the age qualification for the offices of the President from 40 to 35, Governor from 35 to 30, the 35 years stipulated for Senate was retained, House of Representatives 30-25, and the State Houses of Assembly 30-25.

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Also passed was a bill that seeks to restrict a person, was sworn-in as President or Governor to complete the term of the elected President from contesting for the same office for more than one term.

On Authorisation of Expenditure, the lawmakers made it mandatory for the President or Governor to lay the Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly or House of Assembly, 90 days before end of a fiscal year.

They approved the proposal to alter sections 82 and 122 of the Constitution, to reduce the period within which the President or Governor of a state may authorise the withdrawal of monies from the consolidated revenue fund in the absence of an appropriation act from 6 months to 3 months.

They also approved the provision of funding of the Houses of Assembly of States directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.

The Senators altered section 162 of the Constitution to abrogate the State Joint Local Government Accounts and empower each Local Government Council to maintain its own special account into which all allocations due to the Local Government Council, shall be directly paid from the Federation Account and from the Government of the State.

They however approved the deletion of State Independent Electoral Commission from the Constitution to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct local elections in the country.

In his remark, Senate President Bukola Saraki described the passage of the Constitution as a promise kept.

Meanwhile, House of Representatives postponed voting on the ongoing constitution amendment to today.

The lawmakers had fixed yesterday and today for the voting, but they could not begin the voting today due to technical hitches.

The lawmakers’ inability to commence voting yesterday was due to their inability to master the electronic voting system, as they spent about two hours test running the system.

During the test run, which took place about six times, the system gave different results for both attendance and mock voting. At the end of the test run, Speaker Yakubu Dogara announced that the actual voting would take place today.

Daily Trust

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