Constitution Amendment: NASS Rejects Local Government Autonomy

The National Assembly yesterday rejected autonomy for the 774 Local Government Councils in the country just as it approved independent candidacy in elections and approved life pension for the Senate President David Mark and speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal.

The 20 states who voted against local government autonomy are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Osun, Rivers, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.States who gave the yes votes are Adamawa, Anambra, Abia, Bauchi, Benue, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau and Sokoto states.

This is contained in Fourth Alteration Bill 2014 which was passed by the National Assemby yesterday. It would be recalled that the National Assembly transmitted the bill to the State Houses Of Assembly for further legislative work and any clause that was passed by the two thirds of the Houses of Assembly becomes law.

The National Assembly also passed the state of the Nation Address which makes it mandatory for the President to attend a joint meeting of the National Assembly once a year to deliver an address in respect of the state of the nation or may attend any joint meeting of the National Assembly, either to deliver an address on national affairs including fiscal measures, or to make such statement on the policy of government as he considers to be of national importance.”

The lawmakers also gave the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) powers to deregister political parties on the grounds of breach of any of the requirements for registration and failure to win presidential, governorship of at least one state, chairmanship of at least one local government/area council or a seat in the National or State Assembly election.”

The Accountant General of the Federation shall be appointed by the president on the recommendation of National Economic Council, subject to confirmation by the Senate; and shall be responsible for the administration and disbursement of allocations from the Federation Account to the tiers of government.

“Both offices have a four-year non-renewable tenure. The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation shall, however, be funded from the Federation Account.

pursuant to an Act of the National Assembly.”

Immunity for lawmakers also scaled through, and also the recent trend of government officials ignoring summons from the National Assembly was also taken care of by empowering the National Assembly and the state Houses of Assembly respectively to prescribe sanctions, civil or criminal, or both, for failure, refusal or neglect to obey summons issued by a legislative house or any of its committees.

Also Where the President neither signifies that he assents or that he withholds assent, the bill shall at the expiration of thirty days become law

Explaining further Deputy Senate President and Chairman of Senate Committee on Constitution Review Ike Ekweremadu noted that Section 9(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended provides   that an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution can be passed only when it is supported by 2/3 majority of members of the Senate, and the House of Representatives, and approved by 2/3 majority of State Houses of Assembly;

He also recalled that the Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill, 2014 was passed in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively on Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 15th October, 2014; and the National Assembly transmitted same on Tuesday 28th October, 2014 to the State Houses of Assembly to fulfill the requirement of Section 9(2) of the 1999 Constitution;

Ekweremadu also acknowledge that the thirty-six State Houses of Assembly – Abia, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross-River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara, have forwarded their resolution on the provisions of the Bill.

He said : “Observe that from the 71 Sections and Schedules of the 1999 Constitution altered by the National Assembly in the Bill, the following have been approved by the state houses of Assembly in accordance with the provisions of Section 9(2) of the Constitution as required for their passage– Sections: 4, 8, 9, Chapter III, Section 25, 26, 34, 35, 39, 42, New Sections 45A-45D, New Section 50A, Section 58, 59, 65, 66, 67, 68, 81, 82, 84, New Section 84A-84F, Section 89, New Section 92A, Section 100, 106, 107, 109, 121, 122, 124(b), 129, 131, 134, 150, 153, 155, 174, New Section 174A-174L, Section 177, 179, 195, New Section 211A-211H, Section 214, 215, 216, New Section 225A, Section 228, 233, 241, 251, 285, 306, 315, 318, Part I of the First Schedule, Part II of the First Schedule, Part I of the Second Schedule, Part II of the Second Schedule, Part I of the Third Schedule, Part III of the Third Schedule, Fifth Schedule Part I, Seventh Schedule paragraphs 3, 4 & 5;

“Resolved that the provisions of the Bill that have satisfied the requirement of Section 9(2) of the Constitution be processed in line with the Acts Authentication Act and transmitted to the President Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for his assent, to enable institutions of government prepare for immediate implementation of policies and programmes pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution as amended.”

Ekweremadu had in his presentation of the report to the Senate, stated that this would be the last time any sitting president would sign the Constitution as section 9 of the same Constitution has been amended to ensure that after such amendments have been assented to by two thirds of the country’s state houses of assembly and the two chambers of the National Assembly, such amendments become law.

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