Constitution Review | Senate Passes 29 Amendments To The 1999 Constitution Of Nigeria
Constitution Review | Senate Passes 29 Amendments To The 1999 Constitution Of Nigeria
Another landmark achievement has been recorded by the Upper Legislative Chamber through the clearance of 29 Amendment Bills. This is in fulfillment of the Chamber’s promise of amending the Constitution as timely as possible to guard against running out of time. This unique session of the Senate was presided over by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. It would be recalled that the Report of the Review of the 1999 Constitution was considered on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 and was scheduled for electronic voting on the 34 items of the Amendment.Another landmark achievement has been recorded by the Upper Legislative Chamber through the clearance of 29 Amendment Bills. This is in fulfillment of the Chamber’s promise of amending the Constitution as timely as possible to guard against running out of time. This unique session of the Senate was presided over by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. It would be recalled that the Report of the Review of the 1999 Constitution was considered on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 and was scheduled for electronic voting on the 34 items of the Amendment.
Interestingly, 34 Amendment Bills were electronically voted for during the session and 29 were ultimately passed into law having secured the two-third majority votes in most cases and four-fifth majority votes in cases of fundamental human right in the Committee of the Whole.
The Constitution may be amended or altered by an Act of the National Assembly. An Act to alter the Constitution may be passed only by a proposal approved by two-thirds (2/3) majority of all members of each House of the National Assembly (i.e. the Senate and the House of Representative), and supported by a resolution passed by at least two-third (2/3) majority of the Houses of Assembly in the 36 States in Nigeria.
Where, however, the purpose of the alteration Act is to (a) alter the procedure for amendment of the Constitution, (b) create new states, or (c) amend the provisions of the Constitution on Fundamental Human Rights, the requisite votes to pass the Act is four-fifths (4/5) majority of all the members of the National Assembly, which must also be supported by a resolution of at least two-thirds majority of all Houses of Assembly in the 36 States in Nigeria.
When all the requisite votes of the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly are obtained and the alteration Act is duly passed by the National Assembly, the Act would require the assent of the President to become law and effectively alter the Constitution.
See- sections 8,9, 58(1) & (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
Some of the Bills under review include:
- Bill 1: Members of the Council of States to Include former Senate President & House of Reps Speakers as members
- Bill 2: Reduction of Authorization of expenditure Before Budget Passage from 6 to 3 months
- Bill 3: Devolution of Powers to States
- Bill 4: Financial Autonomy for State Legislature
- Bill 5: To grant distributable account for local governments to have their own special accounts.
- Bill 6: Support of Democratic Existence funding and tenure of local government council.
- Bill 7: State creation and boundary adjustment• Bill 8: Immunity for legislators for Acts in course of Duty.
- Bill 9: In the case of political parties and electoral, including the time to conduct by-elections and power to deregister parties
- Bill 10: Presidential Assent to Constitution Amendment Bill
- Bill 11: Time frame for submission of names of ministerial nominees
- Bill 11b: Submission of Ministerial Nominees with their Portfolios
- Bill 11c: 35% affirmative action for women as ministers
- Bill 11d: Submission of Commissioners Nominees with their Portfolios
- Bill 11e: Submission of names of office of commissioners shall be attached with portfolio
- Bill 11f: 35% Affirmative action for women as States Commissioners
- Bill 12: The bill for the appointment of Minister from the FCT.
- Bill 13: For change of names of some local government councils
- Bill 14: Independent Candidacy
- Bill 15: The change of name for the Police from “Nigeria Police Force” to “Nigeria Police”
- Bill 16: Restriction of the Tenure of Presidents and Governors
- Bill 17: Separation of office of Accountant General of the Federal Government from Accountant General of the Federation
- Bill 18: Financial Independence for Office of Auditor of Federation/State
- Bill 19: Separation of Office of the Attorney General of the Federation/State from the office of Minister/Commissioner of Justice
- Bill 20: For submissions from the Judiciary to ensure speedy delivery of justice
- Bill 21: For determination of pre-election matters• Bill 22: Consequential Amendment on Civil Defence
- Bill 23: Citizenship and indigenship
- Bill 24: Procedure for Overriding Presidential Veto in Constitutional Alteration
- Bill 25: The removal of the law-making powers of the Executive from the Constitution
- Bill 25: Part (1): Removal of NYSC, National Security Agencies ,Public Complaints Commission Acts from the Constitution
- Bill 25 Part 2: Removal of Land Use Act from Constitution
- Bill 26: Investment and Securities Tribunal• Bill 27: Reduction of Age for Election
- Bill 28: Authorization of expenditure time frame for laying Appropriation bill, Passage
- Bill 29: Deletion of the National Youth Service Corps decree from CFRN
- Bill 30: Deletion of Public Complain Act from CFRN
- Bill 31: Deletion of National Security Agencies from the CFRN
- Bill 32: Deletion of land Use Act from CFRN
- Bill 33: Deletion of State Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from CFRN
- Bill 34: Inclusion of Section 141 of Electoral Act into the Constitution
Among the Bills that scaled through third reading and passed the fourth amendment to the 1999 Constitution include:
- Composition of Members of the State Council of State: The Bill seeks to amend the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution to include former Senate Presidents and Speakers of the House of Representatives in the composition of the Council of State.
- Authorization of Expenditure: It seeks to alter Sections 82 and 122 of the Constitution to reduce the period within which the President or Governor of a State may authorize the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidate Revenue Fund in absence of an Appropriation Act from six months to three months.
- Financial Autonomy of State Legislatures: This alteration seeks to provide for the funding of the House of Assembly of States directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.
- Distributable Pool Account: It 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 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 the other levels of Government.
- Local Government: This alteration aims at strengthening the Local Government Administration in Nigeria by guaranteeing the democratic existence, funding and tenure of the Local Government Councils.
- The Legislature: This alteration seeks to among other things 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 committee proceedings.
Meanwhile, four of the Amendment Bills were not successful as they were voted against, they include:
- 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 the States. It also delineates the extent to which the Federal Legislature and State Assemblies can legislate on items that have been removed to the Concurrent Legislative List.
- 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.
- Citizenship and Indigeneship: This Bill seeks to alter Section 25 of the Constitution to guarantee a married woman’s right to choose either her Indigeneship by birth or by marriage for the purpose of appointment or election.
- Deletion of Land Use Act from the Constitution: This 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 sub