Saturday, July 29, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - STAR EDITORIAL: A process not worth the while – Daily Trust {Re: STAR INFORMATION: Constitution Amendments By Nigeria’s Senate and by the House: A Run-Down


DAILY TRUST EDITORIAL


A process not worth the while – Daily Trust

The two chambers of the National Assembly took a major step towards another round of constitutional amendment on Wednesday and Thursday last week when the Senate and the House of Representatives voted item by item on the proposed amendments. A total of 33 bills had been tabled by the National Assembly's joint constitution review committee headed by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu. By now it has become routine that each National Assembly session must initiate amendments to the Constitution, something we have criticised in our editorials. Also disturbing is the rather large number of areas that were tabled for amendment, though somewhat of a reduction from more than 100 areas that were marked for amendment in 2006.

When the Senate voted on the 33 items on Wednesday, 97 out of the 108 Senators were present [there should be 109 senators but Anambra Central's seat is vacant]. Twenty nine items were approved while four items failed to garner the two thirds majority [i.e. 73 votes] needed for passage. Among those rejected was devolution of powers to states and the  citizenship/indigeneship bill which sought to guarantee a married woman's right to choose either her area of indigene by birth or by marriage for the purposes of appointment or election. Also rejected was removal of Land Use Act from the Constitution, state creation/boundary adjustment and 35% affirmative action for women.

Senate approved the much publicised "not too young to run" bill to reduce age qualification for the offices of President from 40 to 35, Governor from 35 to 30, 35 years stipulated for Senate was retained, House of Representatives was reduced from 30 to 25 while that of  State Houses of Assembly was reduced from 30 to 25.

Among proposed amendments that Senate approved are immunity for members of the legislature; making it obligatory for the President to deliver a state of the nation address to a joint session of the National Assembly once a year; and one amendment that makes former Senate Presidents and Speakers of the House of Representatives to be members of the Council of State. It also voted to separate the office of Minister or Commissioner of Justice from that of Attorney-General of the Federation or of a state. Senate also approved alteration of section 84 of the Constitution to establish an Accountant-General of the Federal Government separate from Accountant-General of the Federation. It approved an amendment to make the Auditor-General of the Federation and of states financially independent by placing them on first line charges in the consolidated revenue funds.

Also approved by Senate were proposed amendments to fix 30 days time frame within which the President/Governor must forward to the Senate or State House of Assembly the names of nominees for confirmation as Ministers or Commissioners with their portfolios; provide for the appointment of a Minister from the FCT; allowing for independent candidacy in all elections and changing the name "Nigeria Police Force" to "Nigeria Police." Similarly, Senate voted to delete the National Youth Service Corps Act, Public Complaints Commission Act and the National Security Agencies Act from the Constitution.

Other items approved by Senate include restricting a person, who was sworn-in as President or Governor to complete the term of the elected President/Governor from contesting for the same office for more than one term; making 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; reducing the period within which the President or Governor may authorise withdrawal of monies from the consolidated revenue fund in the absence of an appropriation act from 6 months to 3 months; and funding State Houses of Assembly directly from the state's Consolidated Revenue Fund. Senators also voted 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. They also deleted State Independent Electoral Commissions from the Constitution to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct local government elections.

When the House of Representatives voted last Thursday,   it rejected nine of the 33 proposed amendments, five more than Senate rejected. Among areas of difference were the fate of SIECs, ministerial slot for FCT and deletion of NYSC and other acts from the constitution. All in all, 24 amendment bills that were approved by two thirds majorities in both chambers will now be tabled before state houses of assembly. This is the next, crucial step in the process; an item must be approved by majorities in at least 24 state assemblies before it goes to the president for assent.

If past experience is anything to go by, any item that is not pleasing to state governors will be voted down at this level, particularly abolishing local government joint accounts. Some items approved by both national and state assemblies may also fail to get presidential consent, such as forcing chief executives to send portfolios along with ministerial nominations, separating the offices of attorney general and accountant general, or even the item that seeks to oust the president from the constitution amendment process. The president is also likely to withhold assent from what many see as the MPs' self serving items such as granting them immunity from prosecution and making their former heads members of the Council of State.

In the end therefore, no more than a handful of the 33 items laboriously proposed by Ike Ekweremadu's committee are likely to make it into the Constitution but the process would have consumed billions of naira and thousands of man hours. It was probably not worth it.


On Sat, Jul 29, 2017 at 7:52 AM, Mobolaji Aluko <alukome@gmail.com> wrote:

Constitution review: Reps, Senate differ on amendments

 

Constitution Amendments By Nigeria's Senate and by the House: A Run-Down

 

On Wednesday, July 26, 2017, Senators cast their votes to amend sections in the fourth amendment of the 1999 Constitution.  The lawmakers proposed 32 new amendments to the country's constitution, and voted them Yes or No. On Thursday, members of the House of Representative cast their own votes, concurring on some of the amendments, but differing on others.  It is only those amendments concurred on (either by joint acceptance (Yes) or joint rejection (No)) that will be passed on to state assemblies for their votes.

 

Thirty-five per cent affirmative action for women as ministers.

Fate: Passed by the House but was rejected by the Senate.

Appointment of Minister from the FCT

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Change of names of some LG councils

Fate: Passed by the Senate yesterday but was rejected by the House today.

Citizenship and Indigeneship

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

https://us-u.openx.net/w/1.0/cm?id=5c627885-3475-4ed8-a54e-8d0222f57cbe&d=MACRO&r=https%3a%2f%2fdis.criteo.com%2frex%2fmatch.aspx%3fc%3d31%26uid%3d

Removal of law making power from Executive Arm (National Youth Service Corps).

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Removal of law making power from Executive Arm (National Security Agencies Act).

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Removal of law making power from Executive Arm (National Complaints Commission).

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Removal of law making power from Executive Arm (Land Use Act)

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Deletion of State Independent National Electoral Commission (SIEC) from the Constitution.

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

 

On a personal note, what we need is a new Constitution, voted for in a popular national referendum, not constitutional tinkerings/amendments without any sustainable ideological underpinnings, otherwise some of the amendments would not have been accepted or rejected.

So the only AMENDMENT that we need right now is one which permits a REFERENDUM of the any proposed new constitution, and/or of amendments to the Constitution.  Until then, we shall continue along this rickety bridge to our nation's future.

And there you have it.

 

Bolaji Aluko

 

 

The Amendment

Senate Action

House Action

1

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 1, 2017 (Composition of Members of the Council of State) – This bill seeks to amend 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.

Yes

Yes

2

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 2, 2017 (Authorisation of Expenditure) – seeks 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.

Yes

Yes

3

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 3, 2017 (Devolution of Powers) – This seeks to alter the Second Schedule, Part I & II to move certain items to the Concurrent Legislative List to give more legislative powers to States. It also delineates the extent to which the federal legislature and state assemblies can legislate on the items that have been moved to the Concurrent Legislative List.

No

No

4

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 4, 2017 (Financial Autonomy of State Legislatures) – This alteration seeks to provide for the funding of the Houses of Assembly of States directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.

Yes

Yes

5

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 5, 2017 (Distributable Pool Account) – This Bill seeks to alter 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 and also make provisions for savings in the Federation Account before distribution to other levels of Government.

Yes

Yes

6

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 6, 2017 (Local Government) – The alterations here are aimed at strengthening local government administration in Nigeria by guaranteeing the democratic existence, funding, and tenure of local government councils.

Yes

Yes

7

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 7, 2017 (State Creation and boundary Adjustment) – This essentially seeks to alter section 8 of the Constitution to ensure that only democratically elected local government councils participate in the process of State creation and boundary adjustment. It also removed ambiguities in the extant provisions to enhance clarity with respect to the procedure for state creation.

No

Yes

8

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 8, 2017 (The Legislature) – This alteration seeks among other things to alter sections 4, 51, 67, 68, 93 and 109 of the Constitution to provide immunity for members of the legislature in respect of words spoken or written at plenary sessions or at Committee proceedings; institutionalize legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution like the Civil Service Commission in the executive and the Judicial Service Commission in the judiciary; and, obligate the President to attend a joint meeting of the National Assembly once a year to deliver a state of the nation address.

Yes  

YesI

9

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 9, 2017 (Political Parties and Electoral Matters) – This seeks to alter section 134 & 179 to provide sufficient time for INEC to conduct bye-elections; and section 225 to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register political parties for non-fulfillment of certain conditions such as breach of registration requirements and failure to secure/win either a Presidential, Governorship, Local Government chairmanship or a seat in the National or State Assembly or a Councillorship.

Yes

Yes

10

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 10, 2017 (Presidential Assent) – This seeks to alter 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.

Yes

Yes

11

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 11, 2017 (Timeframe for submitting the Names Ministerial or Commissioners Nominees) – This Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to set a 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; provide for attachment of portfolio and thirty-five percent affirmative action for women.

No

Yes

12

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 12, 2017 (Appointment of Minister from the FCT) – The Bill seeks to alter section 147 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 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.

Yes

No

13

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 13, 2017 (Change of Names of some Local Government Councils) – This Bill seeks to alter the Constitution to provide for a change in the names of some Local Government Councils and the definition of the boundary of the FCT, Abuja.

Yes

No

14

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 14, 2017 (Independent Candidature) – This seeks to alter sections 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the Constitution. This is aimed at expanding the political space and broadening the options for the electorate by allowing for independent candidacy in all elections.

Yes

Yes

15

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 15, 2017 (The Police) – This Bill seeks to alter the Constitution in sections 34, 35, 39, 214, 215, 216 and the Third Schedule to change the name of the Police from "Nigeria Police Force" to "Nigeria Police" in order to reflect their core mandate.

Yes

Yes

16

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 16, 2017 (Restriction of Tenure of the President and Governor) – This Bill seeks to restrict a person who 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.

Yes

Yes

17

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 17, 2017 (Separation of the Office of Accountant-General) – This Bill seeks to alter section 84 of the Constitution to establish the office of the Accountant-General of the Federal Government separate from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

Yes

Yes

18

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 18, 2017 (Office of the Auditor-General) – This Bill seeks to make the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation and for the State financially independent by placing them on first-line charges in the Consolidated Revenue funds of the Federation and of the States.

Yes

Yes

19

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 19, 2017 (Separation of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and of the State from the office of the Minister or Commissioner for Justice) – This Bill seeks to alter sections 150, 174, 195, 211, 318 and the Third Schedule to the Constitution to separate the office of the Minister or Commissioner for Justice from that of the Attorney-General of the Federation and of states so as to create an independent office of the Attorney-General of the Federation insulated from partisanship. It also seeks to redefine the role of the Attorney-General, provide a fixed tenure, provide the age and qualification for appointment and also for a more stringent process for the removal of the Attorney General.

Yes

Yes

20

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 20, 2017 (Judiciary) – This bill contains a vast array of alterations with regards to the Judiciary such as the composition of the National Judicial Council, and empowering Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal to hear certain applications in chambers thereby enhancing the speedy dispensation of justice.

Yes

Yes

21

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 21, 2017 (Determination of Pre-Election Matters) – This Bill seeks to among other things make provisions for timelines for the determination of pre-election disputes.

Yes

Yes

22

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 22, 2017 (Civil Defence) – This Bill seeks to reflect the establishment and core functions of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. It is a consequential amendment because of the inclusion of the national security and civil defence as an item in the Exclusive Legislative List under the Second Schedule to the Constitution.

Yes

Yes

23

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 23, 2017 (Citizenship and Indigeneship) – This Bills seeks to alter section 25 of the Constitution to guarantee a married woman's right to choosing either her indigeneship by birth or by marriage for the purposes of appointment or election.

Yes

No

24

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 24, 2017 (Procedure for overriding Presidential veto in Constitutional Alteration) – This Bill seeks to among other things provide the procedure for passing a Constitution Alteration Bill where the President withholds assent.

Yes

Yes

25

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 25, 2017 (Removal of certain Acts from the Constitution) – This Bill seeks to alter section 315 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to remove the law-making powers of the Executive Arm of Government and delete the National Youth Service Corps Decree, the Public Complaints Commission Act, the National Security Agencies Act and the Land Use Act from the Constitution, so that they can be subject to regular process of amendment.

Yes

No

26

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 26, 2017 (Investments and Securities Tribunal) – This bill seeks to establish the Investments and Securities Tribunal under the Constitution.

Yes

Yes

27

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 27, 2017 (Reduction of Age Qualification) – This Bill seeks to alter the Sections 65, 106, 131, 177 of the Constitution to reduce the age qualification for the offices of the President and Governor and membership of the Senate, House of Representatives, and the State Houses of Assembly.

Yes

Yes

28

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 28, 2017 (Authorisation of Expenditure 1) – This Bill seeks to provide for the time within which the President or Governor shall lay the Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly or House of Assembly to encourage the early presentation and passage of Appropriation Bills.

Yes

Yes

29

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 29, 2017 (Deletion of the NYSC Decree from the Constitution) – The Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the National Youth Service Corps Decree from the Constitution so that it can be subject to the regular process of amendment.

Yes

No

30

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 30, 2017 (Deletion of the Public Complaints Commission Act from the Constitution) – The Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the Public Complaints Commission Act from the Constitution so that it can be subject to the regular process of amendment.

Yes

No

31

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 31, 2017 (Deletion of the National Securities Act from the Constitution) – The Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the National Securities Act from the Constitution so that it can be subject to the regular process of amendment.

Yes

No

32

 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 32, 2017 (Deletion of the Land Use Act from the Constitution) – The Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the Land Use Act from the Constitution so that it can be subject to the regular process of amendment

No

No

 

DAILY TRUST

 

Constitution review: Reps, Senate differ on amendments

By Musa Abdullahi Krishi | Publish Date: Jul 28 2017

Members of the House of Representatives yesterday differed with the Senate on certain areas in the ongoing constitution amendment process.

The House rejected a total of nine proposals against the Senate's four.

Senators had on Wednesday approved the deletion of State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) from the Constitution to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct local elections in the country.

However, members of the House voted for its retention in the constitution. This means SIECs will continue to conduct elections for local governments.

The Senate also approved a ministerial slot for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to represent the territory at the Federal Executive Council. But the proposal failed in the House. 

Also, senators had approved the deletion of the Acts establishing the National Youth Service Corps, the Public Complaints Commission and the National Security Agencies Act from the Constitution, so that they can be subject to regular process of amendment. But these proposals failed in the House.

The House also rejected a proposal to change the names of some local government areas in the constitution, which was approved by the Senate. While Senate rejected 35 percent affirmative action for women, the House approved it.

However, the House concurred with the Senate on the rejection of devolution of powers, state creation, citizenship/indigeneship and removal of Land Use Act from the Constitution.

The amendment was to alter section 25 of the constitution to guarantee a married woman's right to choosing either her area of indigene by birth or by marriage for the purposes of appointment or election.

The House concurred with the Senate on the approval of some amendments to the constitution. They are 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.

Other areas are financial autonomy for state assemblies and local governments, abrogation of joint state and LG accounts, independent candidacy, inclusion of former Presidents of the Senate and Speakers of the House in the composition of the Council of State.

Similarly, the House, just like the Senate, approved 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 in agreeing with the Senate fixed 30 days time frame 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.

They concurred with the Senate on the reduction of age for elective offices. The amendments are alterations to 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 Reps member from 30 to 25 and a state assembly member from 30 to 25.

 

 

DAILY TRUST

 

Constitution amendment: Senators reject devolution of powers, state creation

By Ismail Mudashir & Musa Abdullahi Krishi | Publish Date: Jul 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 the removal of Land Use Act from the Constitution and state creation/boundary adjustment, during a 3-hour electronic voting on the amendments.

Out of the 33 provisions, only the 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 broadening 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.

Also passed was a bill that seeks to restrict a person, who 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. 

Reps vote today

Meanwhile, the 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.

Our correspondent reports that 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.

 

 

THE GUARDIAN

Reps approve independent candidacy, local council autonomy

By Igho Akeregha, Adamu Abuh and Otei Oham, Abuja   |   28 July 201

 

 

Endorse 35% affirmative action for women
• Female lawmakers protest against rejection of indigeneship bill
• DPC, LP reject de-registration of political parties, others

The House of Representatives has voted in support of proposal for independent candidacy in the country's electoral system.

At the plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the lawmakers, who considered the Sulaimon Yussuff Lasun-led Special Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, approved the alteration of Section 65 of the constitution to pave the way for any person interested in vying for elective positions in the country.

The lower legislative chamber also altered Section 162 of the Constitution to abrogate the controversial state joint local council accounts aimed at empowering each of the 774 councils of the country to maintain special account to be called Government Allocation Account into which all allocations due to them shall be directly paid from the Federation Account and from the governments of the 36 states of the country.

They also approved the alteration of Section 121 of the constitution to provide for funding of the Houses of Assembly directly from the consolidated revenue fund of the state.

In a similar vein, they also endorsed the alteration of the constitution to bar the judiciary from declaring anybody who did not take part in an election as eventual winner of any of the elective seats contested for in the polity.

The lawmakers further endorsed alteration to Section 82 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 six months to three months, among others.

In another development, female members of the House condemned the rejection of a proposed amendment in the 1999 Constitution to entitle married women claim indigeneship of the state of their husbands.

Attempts by the lawmakers to devolve powers by moving certain items from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list to give powers to states, was also rejected.

The 11th item proposing 35 per cent affirmative action for women was, however, allowed by the House despite that senators rejected it on Wednesday.

The female lawmakers angrily approached the Speaker to allege manipulation of the voting process as soon as the result was announced.

Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers) was visibly angry that she refused to speak with some newsmen who had approached her to seek reaction.

Another female member, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (PDP, Abia), described the decision of the House as unfortunate at the time women were actively participating in local and global debates, politics and decision-making processes.

But Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) said the rejection of the bill was not only a blow to the womenfolk but to the men as well.

He said he was saddened by the development considering the importance of women to peace building, cohesion and national development.

Meanwhile, the Democratic People's Congress (DPC) and Labour Party (LP) have strongly condemned the majority resolution of the Senate, which favoured independent candidacy in future elections and new powers for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register political parties.

The DPC, in a statement yesterday in Abuja by its National Chairman, Rev. Olusegun Peters, urged the 36 Houses of Assembly to reject the proposed amendments.

It argued that in advanced multi-party democracies, political parties are not de-registered based on their failure to win legislative seats or secure a percentage of votes cast in polls, saying: "Political parties are allowed to function or fizzle out if their manifestoes are not acceptable to the people, definitely not by obnoxious, outrageous and draconian laws and legislative fiat."

Also, National Chairman of the LP, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abubakar, told The Guardian: "What we see playing out in the National Assembly is the absence of a virile, viable and sustainable opposition party."

He stressed that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) lack direction as he the Senate of lacking faith in the supremacy of political parties.

Abdulkadir stated: "Our environment, background and culture are not yet ripe for independent candidacy as over 1,000 candidates will jostle for election and this could create administrative problems for INEC, the voters and the security agencies. Even the candidates will be confused."

 

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