The Nigerian Senate has voted in favour of the 1999 Constitution amendment. These amendments would signify the most drastic changes to the law since the advent of constitutional democracy in Nigeria. One of the most significant outcomes of the amendment was the Senators voting against devolving more powers to the State Governments. Using electronic voting, 48 of 95 Senators present voted against the proposal. Here are highlights of the 33 major amendments to the Nigerian constitution. About 95 senators were present for Wednesday’s session.
The Senate voted to abrogate State-LG joint accounts, and guarantee existence of democratically constituted LGAs. This will guarantee a fair amount of Autonomy to Local Governments and prevent the current practice that has seen State Governors emasculate the 3rd Tier of Government
The Senate also voted to reject devolution of power to states. Senator Adamu Aliero, a former Governor of Kebbi State argued it should not stand without reviewing the revenue sharing formula to give more money to states. This is a huge set-back to the now vociferous clamour for restructuring and reduction of power at the center.
The Senate voted to expand Council of states to include former NASS presiding officers. The council of State is an advisory organ consisted mostly of Former Presidents, this has now been expanded to include former heads of the National Legislature
Senators vote to ensure ministerial nominees sent to it include their portfolios and are sent within 30 days of inauguration of the president and of governors for states. This will ensure that the delay by the present administration to set up its team never occurs again.
Senate voted to empower INEC to deregister political parties over failure to secure an elective seat. Gone are the days of having Political parties on paper, if you can’t win an elective position, what’s your use?
Senate rejects 35 per cent affirmative action for women as ministers as well as 20 per cent for women as commissioners in states. This is really a sad day for gender equality. This means the President or Governor is not bound by law to have a gender balanced cabinet.
Senate votes to support independent candidacy during elections. This implies that you don’t need to belong to a political Party to contest elections. What a relief!
Senate votes to change the name of the Nigeria Police Force. The “force” has been removed; we still don’t know how that translates to better policing.
Senate votes to support single term for President and Governors. The bill is also seeking the restriction of a President or Governor who completes the tenure of another from contesting again after winning an election. Simply put, no second term for President Buhari, and neither can Goodluck Jonathan run for office. Sounds like a breath of fresh air is coming.
Senate votes to support separation of the office of Attorney General of Federation from that of the Minister of Justice. Seeing the conflict of interests it has created over the years, this is a welcome development
Senate votes to support a time limit for pre-election matters to be resolved in court. We hope this leads to speedy election dispute resolution.
Senate votes in support of reduction of age qualification for the offices of the president, lawmakers, and governors. You can now run for President at the age of 35 and 30 for the office of governor. This massive boost for the #NotTooYoungToRun Campaign that has been clamoring for a sit for Youths at the table.
Senate votes to remove NYSC, Land Use, PCC, NSA Acts from the constitution to make them flexible for regular amendment.
NOTE: Approval by the Senate is just one of the steps required for constitutional amendment. It is not a final step. Amongst others, Ascent by the President is still required.