Constitution Vote: Senate Drops Six-Year Single Term, Local Government Autonomy, Mayoral Status For FCT

Click for Full Image Size

… Approve Life Pension For NASS Leaders, Direct Funding For State Assemblies

ABUJA, July 16, (THEWILL) – As anticipated the Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted against the single six-year tenure proposed in the constitution for the President and 36 state governors.

Similarly, the Senate also rejected a proposal to grant the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) a mayoral status.

Voting using electronic voting technology as constitutionally required for such critical matters, senators voted against the amended clauses seeking direct payment (first line charge) to local governments from the country’s Consolidated Revenue Fund; Separation of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and state equivalents from the office of the Minister of Justice and Commissioner for Justice at state levels.

With that, the expectations for a full autonomy for Local Government Councils faded.

In all 31 constitution amendment clauses recommended by its committee on the review of the 1999 constitution after concluding the debate on the report last week were voted for.

The lawmakers rejected direct funding for the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice.

However, the Auditor-General of the Federation; State Houses of Assemblies; State Independent Electoral Commission; Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and National Human Rights Commission are to benefit from first line charge going by Senate votes.

Also, proposals to empower the Attorney General of State to direct investigations in certain cases; removing the word “Force” from the Nigeria Police Force; removal of some listed Acts of the National Assembly from the Constitution (National Youth Service Corps Degree 1993, Public Complaints Commission Act, National Securities Agencies Act and Land Use Act) were all rejected.

However, senators voted in favour of a recommendation seeking life pension for principal officers of the National Assembly.

The alteration of Section 84 (new subsection 5a) of the constitution (clause 8) reads: “Any person who has held office as President or Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall be entitled to pension for life at a rate equivalent to the annual salary of the incumbent President or Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.”

On assent of Bills, the Senate voted that where the President neither signifies that he assents or that he withholds assent, a Bill shall at the expiration of 30 days become law.

Again, Senators approved a recommendation that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) within six months of the receipt of the draft constitution cause a referendum to be conducted to approve the draft Constitution, by implication barring the President from a possible assent or veto as the case may be.

Amended clauses on gender equity (Section 26(2)(a) is altered by substituting for the word “woman”, the word “person”); child rights/protection and protection of people with disability were approved and passed by the lawmakers.

Prisons, pension, labour, railway and stamp duties were removed from the exclusive legislative lists to the concurrent list while aviation remained on the executive list.

Arbitration, environment, healthcare, agriculture and youths were also moved to the concurrent legislative list.

At the conclusion of the voting, Senate President David Mark described the voting as “a historic day in the history of democracy” in the country.

“Today is a historic day in the history of democracy in this country. We have voted in what we believe and we believe and we voted for those issues that we think will ensure that democracy continues to mature and take a firm root in this country… Whatever emotions or sentiments people had to express we put them in practical terms,” Mark said.