Posted by News Express | 6 June 2013 | 3,792 times
A nod of approval for a switch from two maximum tenures of four years each to one of a single six years for the President and state governors is one of the highlights of the report of the Nigerian Senate’s Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review presented to the Senate in session yesterday.
Others include the rejection of creation of new states despite receiving 61 requests for new states, rejection of the demand for state police and rejection of the request for a special status for the country’s former capital, Lagos.
The report presented by the Committee Chairman, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, recommended that local councils be granted full financial autonomy, among other important recommendations. Below are some of the highlights of the report:
On the single tenure proposal: “Subject to the provisions of sub-section (1) of this section, the president shall vacate his office at the expiration of a period of six years.
“(3) A person holding the office of the president or vice president immediately before the coming into force of the alteration of sections 135 and 136 of this constitution shall not be eligible to contest election for a single term of six years.”
State creation: “61 requests for state creation were made to the committee. However, none of those requests complied with the entire provision of section 8(1).
“The committee therefore recommends that, provided the House of Representatives received same, henceforth, the Clerk of the National Assembly should be directed to forward any memoranda that complied with Section 8(1) (a) (I, ii &iii) to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a referendum which itself is still half of the journey towards state creation. This can be done at anytime, whether or not there is a constitution amendment exercise going on.”
State Police: “We recommend that the preferred approach at this time is to critically look at the current federal police system with a view to sanitising and strengthening it.”
No special status for Lagos: “On Special Status for Lagos, while the Committee appreciates the peculiar needs and challenges of Lagos, it is our considered opinion that according such special status should be a matter of political decision, which should be kept out of the Constitution.”
Autonomy for local councils: “Any amount standing to the credit of local council in the federal account shall be allocated and paid directly to the council for their benefit on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.”
However, “The amount standing to the credit of a local council without a democratically-elected council shall be withheld until there is a democratically-elected local council in such a local council.”
Pension for past Presidents: “(5A): Any person who has held office as President or Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall be entitled to pension for life at a rate equivalent to the yearly salary of the incumbent President or Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
Power of the President to assent to Constitution amendment bill scrapped: “The rules include
“(3A): For the purpose of altering the provision of this Constitution, the assent of the President shall not be required.
“(3B): National Assembly may propose a new Constitution for the Federation.
“(3C): A new Constitution shall come into effect in the manner stipulated under subsection (3D) – (3N) of this section.
“(3M): The Independent National Electoral Commission shall, within six months of the receipt of the draft Constitution, cause a referendum to be conducted to approve the draft Constitution.
“(3N): If the draft Constitution receives a simple majority of votes cast in two-thirds of all states of the federation, it shall come into force as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
First-line charge granted to some state bodies: “(3) Any amount standing to the credit of the State Independent Electoral Commission; House of Assembly of the State; Auditor-General of the State; Judiciary and Attorney-General of the State; in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State shall be paid directly to the heads of the respective bodies for the use of the institution for which he is head.”
Status of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT): “There shall be for the Federal Capital Territory, a mayor. The National Assembly shall make law to provide for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of the office of Mayor of the Federal Capital Territory.”
Election of the FCT Mayor: “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of Mayor if he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth, he has attained the age of 35 years, he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party and he has been educated up to at least, school certificate level or its equivalent.”
Request for ministerial nominees to come to the Senate with portfolios: “Assigning portfolios should remain the prerogative of the President for reasons of flexibilities. Besides, it has been shown that professional qualification does not necessarily approximate to performance in practical terms.”
Rotation of Executive Offices: “We rejected this proposal on the grounds that the Constitution should not make Nigerian leadership subject to ethnic or regional considerations. This should be a matter of consideration among the various political parties.”
Request to separate the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation from that of the Minister of Justice: Approved to guarantee the independence of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation. (The same measure also extended to the state level).
•Photo shows Committee Chairman, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
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