Friday, 28 July 2017

Senate removes President’s power

The lawmakers unanimously voted to strip the President of powers to assent to amendments made to the constitution, thereby giving the legislature sweeping powers to alter the constitution.
Senators have passed 29 of the 33 items slated f an r amendment to the 1999 Constitution.

They voted 92 against four to pass the amendment seeking to whittle down the power of the President to veto amendments to the constitution.

The lawmakers also unanimously passed the amendment seeking to include past Presidents of the Senate and former House of Representatives Speakers as members of the Council of State.

Also passed was parliamentary immunity to lawmakers in the federal and state legislatures against prosecution over words spoken or written during debates or at committee assignments.

They also passed an amendment to compel the President to attend a joint session of the National Assembly once a year to deliver a State of the Nation address.

The length of time given to the President to spend funds from the consolidated revenue in the absence of appropriation was reduced from six to three months.

Henceforth, the President must lay the nation’s budget proposal before the National Assembly within 90 days before the end of a fiscal year. Governors are to lay their states’ within the same time frame at the state assemblies.

Local governments have been freed from the grip of state governments, with the scrapping of the Joint State/Local Government Accounts. The local governments are to get their allocations directly from the federation account and other sources.

State assemblies are to get financial autonomy. They are also to enjoy a right to funding from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the states. The amendment had been rejected by state assemblies during previous constitution amendments that collapsed.

Names of appointees of the President and governors for cabinet offices are to be submitted to the Federal and State parliaments within 30 days of taking the oath of office by the President or governors.

Portfolios to be assigned to each appointee will also be indicated in the nomination letters forwarded to the Senate or the state assemblies as the case may be.

The Senate approved also a provision for independent candidates at all levels of election, as a way of expanding the political space beyond conventional parties.

The lawmakers voted in favour of the separation of the office of the Accountant General of the Federal Government from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

Similarly, the office of the Auditor-General for the federation and state Auditors General are to be on first line charges in the consolidated revenue funds of the federation and the states.

The Senate voted in favour of separating the office of the Minister of Justice and commissioners of Justice from that of the Attorney-General of the Federation and that of the State.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was empowered to delist non-performing registered political parties.

The amendment affects any political party that fails to win any seat at the federal, state or local government level.

Another aspect in the amendment seeks to restrict a person who was sworn in as President or governor to complete the term of an incumbent from contesting for the same office for more than one term.

The Senate also passed the bill on the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, which seeks to reflect the establishment and core functions of corps.

The amendment sought includes national security and civil defence as an item in the exclusive legislative list under the second schedule of the constitution.

Also passed was the bill on procedure for overriding presidential veto in constitutional alteration. It seeks to provide a procedure for passing a constitution alteration bill in the absence of the President.

Going by the bill, every amendment approved by the National Assembly with corollary support from the state legislators will automatically become law, even without the assent of the President.

The Bill seeking to set time lines for determination of election disputes also scaled through as Senators Voted 97 in support.

Another amendment proposed on age qualification by altering Section 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the constitution, affected the age limits for president, governors, senators, Reps and state assembly members.

For the House of Representatives and state assemblies, the age limit was pegged at 25; Senate, 35; president, 35; and governors, 35.

The NYSC Scheme was deleted from the Constitution through a Bill to that effect. This is to enable the lawmakers subject the Scheme to regular process of amendment.

The Public Complaints Commission Act also got the same treatment.

The Senate also overwhelmingly voted to delete the National Securities Act from the constitution for the Act to undergo regular process of amendment.

1 comment:

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