28 July 2017

Nigeria: Constitution Review - Reps, Senate Differ On Amendments

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Geo political zones.

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.

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