Constitution Amendment: 12 Things To Know About New Constitution, As Reps Vote Tuesday/Wednesday
Are you following the constitution amendment of the 1999 Constitution being carried out by the House of Representatives?
If you haven’t, here are 12 quick highlights of the report submitted to the house by the Lasun Yusuf- headed Constitution Review Committee last Thursday.
It is scheduled to be considered and adopted through electronic voting on Tuesday and Wednesday.
1 You can be President at 35 years or above
Future presidential elections in the country is to be thrown open to interested Nigerians from the age of 35 and above. The current minimum age for qualification for the office is 40.
Besides, Nigerians from the age of 25 years may also be allowed to seek election into the state assemblies and the House of Representatives, down from the present 30 years.
The age qualification provision comes under a bill entitled “An Act to alter the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to reduce the age for qualification for the offices of the President and Governor and membership of the Senate, House of Representatives and the State Houses of Assembly, and for other related matters.”
It is otherwise called “Not too young to run bill.”
2 No second term for VP/Dep-Gov who succeeds dead incumbent
The report seeks to bar any person who was sworn in as President or Governor to complete the term of the elected President or Governor from being elected to the same office for more than a single term.
3 Welcome, to era of independent candidates
The bill makes provisions for politicians to vie for elective positions without belonging to political parties or under the platform of a political party but as independent candidates.
4 Local governments to get financial autonomy
The report makes no provision for the Joint State/Local government account as it currently obtains. Thus, revenue allocation from the federal purse goes directly to each local government.
A new section specifically says no unelected person will be recognised by any authority and shall not be entitled to any revenue allocation from the Federation Account or the State government nor exercise any function exercisable by a local government council under the constitution.
Election into the local governments is for a three year-tenure expiration period for elected persons to the Council.
5 Women shall have 35 percent of all appointments
The report recommends that 35 percent of persons appointed as Ministers or commissioners by the President or state Governors shall be women.
6 Cabinet formed within 30 days, portfolio included in Ministerial list to Senate
It stipulates that the President must, within 30 days of taking the oath of office, swear in his Ministers and in the case of Governors, their Commissioners.
This, apparently, is to discourage a situation where cabinets are not formed for months.
In addition, the President, in sending his list of Ministers to the Senate for confirmation, must indicate the portfolio of each nominee.
7 State of the Nation address
It requires the President to deliver the State of the Nation address before a joint session of the National Assembly on the first legislative day in the month of May every year.
8 Election disputes to be resolved ASAP
In a move to stop legal disputes arising from elections to drag on for too long, every pre-election matter shall be filed in court not later than 14 days from the date of occurrence of event, decision or action complained of in the suit.
A new subsection also proposes that an appeal from a decision of the court on pre-election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of filing the appeal.
9 Expanded Council of State… Enter Senate Presidents and Speakers
The Council of State is proposed for expansion to include all former Senate Presidents and Speakers of the House of Representatives but limited to those that were not removed through impeachment. This is to ensure fair representation by the three arms of government in the Council.
10 Separation of AGF and Minister of Justice
Section 150 of the proposed bill seeks to separate the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from the office of the Minister of Justice.
11 Exclusive list… Downgraded
Certain items were moved from Exclusive List to Concurrent List in the proposed bill.
These include national parks, pensions, gratuities and other – like benefits payable out of Consolidated Revenue Fund, post, telegraph and telephones, and stamp duties.
The Federal Government is to retain exclusive rights to environmental issues relating to, arising from, partaking to and connected with oil and gas exploration, mining activities and other forms of energy exploitation, extraction, transportation and processing.
It will also have exclusive legislative rights to environmental issues relating to coastal management and Exclusive Economic zone, rights to Railway, inter-state railway regulations while State Assembly may make laws for the establishment of State railway transportation.
On electricity, the report proposes in the Second schedule 14 (b) that State Assembly may make laws for the State with respect to “the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity within that State or in collaboration with any other State.”
12 Financial autonomy, Immunity for legislators
There is provision for financial autonomy for State legislature and immunity for lawmakers from civil or criminal proceedings “in respect of words spoken or written before the House or a Committee thereof.”