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Constitution evaluation: Governors stalemate NASS efforts

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The Constitution evaluation by the ninth National Assembly might have been caught up with the battle of curiosity between the lawmakers and the State Houses of Assembly, offered that seven months after transmission of the doc in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, solely 11 out of 36 States of the Federation forwarded their resolutions to the National Assembly.

Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee and Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, penultimate week at a press briefing expressed frustration over the refusal of 25 State Assemblies which he believed had been working in cahoots with their governors to react each in favour or in direction of which is inside their statutory accountability.

Omo-Agege opined that the issue of Constitution evaluation posed a credibility catastrophe to the ninth parliamentarians, having promised Nigerians of a Constitution modification that will likely be acceptable to all. His fears had been moreover on the prospect of effluxion of time and the ninth National Assembly has seven months to exit.

He outlined that the doc transmitted to the various State Houses of Assembly on twenty sixth March, 2022, for his or her consideration constituted 44 funds that had been earlier authorised by the joint Committee of the upper and reduce legislative Chambers out of the 66 funds actually helpful. Sadly, after a protracted wait, he said his Committee turned inundated with calls over the future of the proposed modification.

More worrisome was the antecedent of failed makes an try and amend the Constitution before now beneath the Committee Chairmanship of the now embattled Senator Ike Ekweremadu, when he was the Deputy Senate President from 2011 to 2019. To change the narrative and rewrite historic previous, Omo-Agege said his Committee expeditiously transmitted the funds to State Houses of Assembly.

He argued that the proposed modification as detailed inside the 44 funds would enhance democratic governance in Nigeria, questioning why some governors and State Assemblies had been at a loss with what the nation stands to study. Citing an alteration of some provisions of the Constitution between 2003 and 2007, that bothers on the Electoral Act, the lawmaker averred that it enhanced the conduct of elections in Nigeria.

He said: “Between 2003 and 2007, successive Assemblies have employed an incremental methodology to altering the Constitution. Hence, the First, Second, Third and Fourth Constitution (Alteration) Acts had been handed and enacted.

“These amendments undoubtedly improved our electoral management and adjudication systems, fostered political participation and addressed other fundamental good governance issues.”

According to Omo-Agege, the switch to amend the Constitution was notoriously triggered by relentless agitation by the residents, who believed the modification would resolve some updated social and political challenges, stressing that the strategy was subjected to the citizen participation so as to seize their agitation.

The residents’ participation, in all intents, in response to him, was to offer the proposed Constitution ”a people-oriented working doc, subsequently, the Committee obtained submissions from socio-cultural, socio-political, Civil Society and curiosity groups from all through the whole geopolitical zones of the nation. Agitations, as contained in quite a few submissions, formed the fulcrum of the 44 funds that had been transmitted to the 36 State Houses of Assembly on twenty ninth March 2022 for approval in line with Section 9(2) stipulations of the Constitution.”

Interestingly, the draft funds succinctly captured the principle of checks and balances which is in consonance with democratic governance, as it’s going to strengthen legislative constructions on the State and Local Government Council ranges, neutral constitutional our our bodies, deal with issues with revenue leakages and unbridled authorities spending, and enhance environment friendly administration of justice in Nigeria.

Of paramount significance too, was the granting of Local Government autonomy inside the bill, which could have afforded the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) the ability to ship month-to-month accrued revenue to the Local Government Council accounts with out their State governors hijacking the fund beneath the guise of State joint accounts, considerably, in “the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fifth Alteration) Bill, No. 1, 2022 (Local Government Financial Autonomy).”

Other areas the bill sought to deal with was value of lecturers’ salaries to be the accountability of the three tiers of presidency, whereas the existence of Local Governments may very well be legitimised inside the Constitution with governors being statute barred from tampering with development, moreover by the use of a due course of.

The (Fifth Alteration) Bill, No. 2, 2022, which made provision for the existence of LG as third tier of presidency, further stipulated that the Executives might solely emerge by the use of elections, thereby abolishing caretakership appointments.

Notwithstanding the other far reaching reforms inherent inside the bill, an Abuja-based lawyer, Barrister Enemaku Aba, speaking with DAILY POST on Thursday, submitted that the Constitution evaluation was lifeless on arrival.

He reasoned that the areas proposed to the amended had been immediately the conduit pipes of State governors and asking the State Assemblies beneath their administration to maneuver resolutions in favour of the proposal portions to suicide.

According to him, he hasn’t seen the draft funds submitted to the State Houses of Assembly, nevertheless inferring from media research, he might envisage that the modification would not see the sunshine of the day.

“I haven’t really seen the funds you is perhaps referring to, nevertheless governors will not allow LG autonomy, State Assemblies autonomy because of these are their conduit pipes.

“Afterall, there is no time for the National Assembly anymore. They have started their campaign and the only serious legislative assignment before them now is the 2023 national budget.”

Meanwhile, funds to amend an current Constitution in Nigeria require the approval of two thirds (24) of the 36 States House of Assembly sooner than the president can assent to it.

Constitution review: Governors stalemate NASS efforts

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