Senate constitution review vote ends with gains and losses

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The Nigerian Senate, on Wednesday, concluded voting on the constitution amendment to guarantee autonomy of local government administration and strengthening of their democratic existence, funding and tenure of councils.
The legislators voted unanimously that it was inappropriate to alter the Constitution to ensure that democratically elected local government councils participate in the process of state creation and boundary adjustment.
Senate however, outrightly rejected the devolution of powers and voted against the altercation of the second schedule, Part 1 and 2 of the constitution, which is seeking to move certain items to the concurrent legislative list, to give more legislative powers to states.
It also rejected the 35 percent affirmative action for women in federal appointments and said it was not wrong to guarantee married women’s right to choose either her indigeneship by birth or by marriage for purposes of appointment or election.
The Bill seeking to erase the Land Use Act from the constitution so that it can be subject to regular process of amendment, was also rejected by the senate.
A total of 33 Bills were presented during plenary but the Senate only passed 29 and rejected 4 Bills respectively.
The voting was conducted on two-third majority, using electronic voting system.
The bills will have to be voted by the state assemblies.

Section 82 and 122 altered

Meanwhile, the Senate has okayed the alteration of sections 82 and 122 to reduce the period within which the president or governor of a state may authorise the withdrawals of monies from the consolidated revenue fund in absence of an appropriation act from 6 to 3 months.
It approved the composition of members of the council of state to include former Senate Presidents and Speakers of House of Representatives.
Also, the Bill for reduction of age qualification as contained in Sections 65,106,131 and 177 of the 1999 constitution were passed by the Senate to reduce the age for the offices of the President and Governor and membership of the Senate, House of Representatives and the state Houses of Assembly.
By this, the age qualification for president, Senate and House of Representatives is 35 years while age qualification for state elective positions is 30 years accordingly.
On a time frame for submitting the names of ministerial or commissioner nominees, the lawmakers agreed that submission of ministerial and commissionership nominations’ names must go with assigned portfolio, and shall only be done by the President or Governor within  30 days from assumption of office, while it preferred 35 percent appointment for women in the ministerial cadre and 20 percent for women commissioners.
Sections 65,106,131 and 177 of the constitution got the approval of the Senate for altercation to allow for independent candidacy in all elections.

NPF name change

Among other Bills, the Senate passed the amendment to change the name of the Police from ‘Nigeria Police Force’ to ‘Nigeria Police’ in order to reflect their call mandate, and as a civil institution.
Meanwhile, Senator Biodun Olujimi has kicked against the Senate’s rejection of the 35 percent affirmative action for women in consideration for appointments.
She moved a motion on the order of privilege and urged the Senate to consider it for the sake of gender equality.
Speaking after the passage of the Bills, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the legislative exercise was a promise kept which has shown the commitment of the 8th Senate to the fight against corruption.
“The content of this exercise is a promise kept. What we have done today has laid a foundation for socio-economic and political stability. We have today for the amendment redefined budgetary processes and addressed issues that have bogged us down for many years which became problems for this country.
“More importantly, we have opened a way for a new Nigeria for the younger people can have a place in governance, and to ensure credible elections,” he stated.

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