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Senate Seeks Immunity For Members, Rejects Power Devolution

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On Wednesday,the Senate, voted on the proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution during which the lawmakers rejected devolution of power to the states.

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At its plenary in Abuja, the lawmakers rejected the alteration of the Second Schedule, Parts I and II of the Constitution to move certain items to the Concurrent Legislative List to give more legislative powers to states.

 

The proposed amendment on power devolution was to also “delineate the extent to which the federal legislature and state assemblies can legislate on the items that have been moved to the Concurrent Legislative List.”

After votes were taken, 46 senators voted for devolution of power, 48 voted against it, while one Senator abstained.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly specifically approved the alterations of sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the Constitution, “aimed at expanding the political space and broadening the options for the electorate by allowing for independent candidacy in all elections.”

This was part of the proposals in the report by the Committee on Constitution Review on the ‘Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 As Amended (Alteration) Bill 2017’, which were passed on Wednesday.

The lawmakers had adopted the report at the plenary on Tuesday and debated its recommendations.

At the plenary on Wednesday, votes were taken on the proposed amendments. Electronic voting was adopted, which allowed a legislator to either press the ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Abstain’ button.

Each proposal also required two-thirds of the votes to be passed.

Ninety seven senators registered their presence in the chamber, out of the 109 members.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided over the session, was not expected to vote until there was a tie.

In all, 29 alterations were approved out of the 33 proposed, which were drawn from 27 bills.

But the pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere and a faction of the Ijaw National Congress have faulted the Senate for rejecting devolution of power to the states.

They argued that if the Senate had approved the clause, it would have given hope to fillip to the agitations for restructuring of the country.

The Senate also approved the inclusion of former Presidents of the Senate and Speakers of the House of Representatives in the Council of State.

It accepted the removal of state independent electoral commission from the Constitution and the transfer of its functions to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The bill, seeking to alter Section 162 of the Constitution “to abrogate the State Joint Local Government Accounts”, was also passed.

It also seeks to “empower each local government council to maintain its own special account into which all allocations due to the local governments council shall be directly paid from the Federation Account and from the government of the state, and to also make provisions for savings in the Federation Account before distribution to other levels of government.”

In addition, the Senate passed another bill for alterations “aimed at strengthening local government administration in Nigeria by guaranteeing the democratic existence, funding and tenure of local government councils.”

Also approved is the proposed amendment to allow funding of the state Houses of Assembly directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the states.

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