Saturday, 17 February 2018

Constitutional amendment Bills: See the Position of some states houses of Assemblies in Nigeria

|17 February 2018 | Victor Adaha 

Months after the 8th National Assembly transmitted drafts of the 1999 Constitution Amendment to States House of Assemblies, work by the different houses are on going. This could be said to be one of the achievements of this Assembly, as it is well agreed to be a good step in restructuring the Nation. It would also be recalled that this same Assembly organised just recently a National Security Summit, on the state of the Nation.

The 15 Bills transmitted to the State Houses includes the following

Authorisation of expenditures, Financial autonomy for state legislatures, distribution pool account, Local government, The legislature, Political parties and electoral matters, Independent candidature, The Nigeria police force, Restrictions on tenure of the president and governors, Submissions from the judiciary, Determination of preelection matter, Consequential amendment of Civil defence, Procedures for overriding  presidential veto in constitution alteration, Reduction of age for elective offices, Authorisation of expenditures II.

For these bills seeking alteration, to eventually pass for presidential assent, it depends greatly on the 36 Houses of Assembly, as any proposal that meets the approval of at least twenty-four (24 ) Houses will be processed and transmitted to the president for assent. This has formed a very strong bases for the different State Houses to prioritize the process, which since the better part of the third quarter of last year (2017) when it was transmitted to the State Houses, it has remained the big focus.

Delta State

The State legislative house unanimously gave a nod to financial autonomy for State legislature, immunity clause for legislators in respect to words spoken or written during plenary or committee sittings.

Kano State

So far voted eight out of fifteen (8/15), including Financial autonomy for state legislatures and Nigeria police force alteration among others, while the rest are still under consideration with stakeholders.

Taraba State

Voted ten out of fifteen(10/15) which like others voted for State legislative house autonomy, but surprisingly did not vote for Local government autonomy, the local government autonomy bill has been scheduled for public hearing along side other contentious bills.
Embarrassingly,  the house voted against the Not-too-young-to-run bill.

Benue State

Followed the pattern of other Houses by voting for autonomy of State legislatures, voted for reduction of age, Nigeria police force alteration. But voted against independent candidature, although feelers has it that it could be considered for public hearing.

Nasarawa State

The state legislative house voted thirteen out of fifteen (13/15) they include, Independent candidature, Age reduction, and like trend, Financial autonomy for state legislatures but did not vote for Local Government autonomy and strengthening of local government administration, this two bills were not adopted during the sitting and has been since scheduled for public hearing.

Akwa ibom State

The most recent House to vote, voted for Independent candidature, Nigeria police force alteration, Age reduction and as the trend goes, State Legislature autonomy, but also like a few Houses put Local Government autonomy on hold until it engages stakeholders especially NUT.

Cross river State

This is one state that tolled a different cause of action, as it remains the only State legislative House that mandated all its twenty-five (25) constituent to conduct town hall meetings at their different constituencies, and submit back memoranda  to the house as its report. Speaking with one of the House Member, who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that a seventy- five (75) page report had been submitted to the House, and the House has equally scheduled Monday 20th February to pass the bills as gotten from the constituencies.

However, pundits have it in good records that Cross river State legislators would follow closely the trend of their colleagues in Akwa ibom. Although this is not to preempt the legislators.
However, the bills passage preparation was greeted by a press release from a civil society group in Calabar that called on the State legislative House to vote for Age reduction bill, as they said that is the only way the legislators would get the votes of the youths, who are the majority of the state population.

Victor Adaha
Public affairs analyst