Senate presents report on constitution amendment

By Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigeria’s senate committee on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution has presented its status report to the Senate in plenary.

Presenting the status report on Thursday, the Chairman of the committee and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremmadu said that 15 Constitution amendment bills have been considered between the period of the Committee’s inauguration and now.

The highlight of the report shows that Sections 82 and 122 of the Constitution were amended to reduce the period within which the President or a Governor may authorise the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the absence of an appropriation act from six to three months.

This, the committee believes will essentially compel early presentation of budget proposal by the Executive arm of government thereby giving the legislature sufficient time to scrutinise such proposal.

Local governments
Also amended was section 7 of the Constitution in which the committee recommended a uniform 3-year tenure for elected local government council officials. It says any Local Government without a democratically elected council shall not be entitled to any revenue from the Federation Account.

According to the status report, “the amendments in this section are essentially meant to strengthen local government administration in Nigeria and ensure effective service delivery by insulating local governments from undue and counter-productive interferences from state governments.”

It also sought the financial autonomy of State Legislatures by amending section 121 of the Constitution to guarantee a first line charge funding of State Houses of Assembly from the consolidated revenue fund of the State.

Five sections (256, 299, 300, 301 and 302) of the Constitution were amended to create the Office of an elected Mayor for the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, with powers to administer the FCT, as if it were a State of the Federation by exercising all functions presently administered by the Minister.

Senator Ekweremmadu told the Senate that the committee “enjoyed huge good-will from the general public, states, non-governmental organisations and international development organisations during the period of its assignment.”

The Committee was constituted on Tuesday December 22, 2015 and inaugurated on Tuesday January 13, 2016 with a clear mandate to reprocess the aspects of the Fourth Alteration Bill that had gained national consensus.

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki re-affirmed the lawmakers’ commitment to complete the current constitution amendment by the first quarter of 2017.

Mercy Chukwudiebere