SENATE OKAYS HARMONIZED AMENDED CONSTITUTION
With a total of 85 electronic votes cast by Senators who registered for voting on the floor of the Senate, the harmonized copy of the amended 1999 Constitution was on Wednesday passed by the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Following the successful passage of the amended constitution, the clean copy of the harmonized version would be forwarded to the 36 states Houses of Assembly for concurrence. In this wise, President of the Senate, David Mark said the National Assembly would parley with Speakers of the Houses of Assembly to smoothen the edges for speedy action on the copy for it to be become law.
The report of the conference committee which was the harmonized version by the Senate and the House of Representatives was laid on the Senate table on Tuesday. While presenting the harmonized report before the casting of votes, Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review, Senator Ike Ekweremadu said the bill sought to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to among other things provide for independent candidates in elections, guarantee administrative and financial independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Ekweremadu who was also the Deputy President of the Senate further said the harmonized copy of the constitution was to equally ensure non-elongation of the terms of office of elected officials beyond the required constitutional provision thereby enabling the legislature to empower the Vice President or Deputy Governor to function as Acting President or Acting Governor in the absence of the occupier of the respective offices for reasons of vacation, ill health or any other situation of temporary incapacitation.
Senator Ekweremadu also said the conference committee met severally to examine the bills as passed by the two chambers adding that 50 Sections and three Schedules of the Constitution were affected by the alteration made by the two chambers.
According to Ekweremadu; 'The two chambers passed same version on the following; 10 Sections, viz; 81, 75, 121, 222, 223,224, 225, 226, 227, 228; Sub-Sections: 106(1) d, 285(1).' 'The committee resolved to adopt the Senate version of the bill in the following sections: 66, 68, 69, 107, 109, 110, 119, 137, 139, 153, 154, 156, 157, 158, 160, 180, 182, 184, 200, and 229; Sub-sections 65(1), 246(3), 285(1)b, (2), (5a-c) and Third Schedule Part 1(1), (3) a & b, and Paragraph 15©.'
Similarly; 'The Committee adopted the House of Representatives version in the following Sections: 76, 84, 116, 132, 145, 177, 178, 190, 221, 233, 239, 251, 272, 318 and Sub-sections 65(2&3), 106(2), 131(2), 246(1), 285(1)c, 285(3), 285(5)d; Third Schedule Part 1(1)b and Part 1(2), Third Schedule Part 1, (3)c, Sixth Schedule Part Paragraph 1(A)I, Paragraph 1(B) and citation.'
Ekweremadu further said the harmonization committee adopted the amended provisions of the constitution after a very careful examination and exhaustive deliberations on the affected provisions in accordance with due consideration of the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians, substance of the provisions and drafting elegance.
In his remarks after the passage of the harmonized copy, President of the Senate, David Mark commended the Senators, particularly members of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution on their performances towards a successful completion of the alteration of the 1999 constitution which he noted was a great achievement since the inauguration of the present democracy.