NASS blame governors as Constitution Amendment bid fails

The bid by the current National Assembly to effect a fifth alteration to the 1999 Constitution has failed.

The leadership of the National Assembly yesterday explained that the insistence of State governors on State Police as a condition for supporting the entire 44 proposed amendments to the Constitution was responsible for the failure of the bid to its amendment.

The sum of one billion Naira was approved for the amendment exercise.

The 44 Bills transmitted to the State Houses of Assembly seek to, amongst others: strengthen the legislature’s authority to enable it to serve as an effective pillar of checks and balance to the executive; strengthen independent constitutional bodies; create and strengthen a culture of good governance; address issues of revenue leakages and unbridled government spending, and enhance effective administration of justice in Nigeria.

Among the 44 Bills are Local Government Financial Autonomy, which seeks to entrench financial autonomy for local government councils by abolishing the State Joint Local Government Account, and providing for a particular account into which shall be directly paid all allocations due to local government councils from the Federation Account and the internally-generated revenue of the State Government.

In addition, the Bill provides for the payment of teachers’ salaries to be shared between the three tiers of Government, such that the amount to be deducted from the Local Government Councils is the least.

Another Bill is the Local Government Administrative Autonomy Bill, which seeks to establish Local Government Councils as a substantive tier of Government in the Constitution, and guarantees their democratic existence and tenure by entrenching the fundamental governance structure of the local government councils in the Constitution. It prohibits the exercise of council powers by any entity other than democratically elected council members.

At a press conference, presided over by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution, it was pointed out that only 11 States have considered and voted on the 44 amendments sent to the State Houses of Assembly six months ago.

According to him, “more worrisome is that while we are still expecting the receipt of the resolutions of the remaining Houses of Assembly, we received a letter from the Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies informing the National Assembly that the remaining States will not act on the 44 Bills unless the National Assembly passes four new Bills they have proposed in the letter.

The Bills they propose seek to amend the Constitution to establish State Police; establish State Judicial Council; streamline the procedure for removing presiding officers of State Houses of Assembly; and, institutionalise legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution”.

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