Another landmark achievement has been recorded by the Upper Legislative Chamber through the clearance of 29 Amendment Bills. This is in fulfillment of the Chamber’s promise of amending the Constitution as timely as possible to guard against running out of time. This unique session of the Senate was presided over by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. It would be recalled that the Report of the Review of the 1999 Constitution was considered yesterday and Wednesday, July 26, 2017 was schedule for electronic voting on the 34 items of the Amendment.
Interestingly, 34 Amendment Bills were electronically voted for during the session and 29 were ultimately passed into law having secured the two-third majority votes in most cases and four-fifth majority votes in cases of fundamental human right in the Committee of the Whole. Among the Bills that scaled through third reading and passed the fourth amendment to the 1999 Constitution include:
1) Composition of Members of the State Council of State: The Bill seeks to amend the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution to include former Senate Presidents and Speakers of the House of Representatives in the composition of the Council of State.
2) Authorization of Expenditure: It seeks to alter Sections 82 and 122 of the Constitution to reduce the period within which the President or Governor of a State may authorize the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidate Revenue Fund in absence of an Appropriation Act from six months to three months.
3) Financial Autonomy of State Legislatures: This alteration seeks to provide for the funding of the House of Assembly of States directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.
4) Distributable Pool Account: It seeks to alter Section 162 of the Constitution to abrogate the State Joint Local Government Accounts and empower each Local Government Council to maintain its own Special Account into which all allocations due to the Council shall be directly paid from the Federation Account and from the Government of the State and also make provisions for savings in the Federation Account before distribution to the other levels of Government.
5) Local Government: This alteration aims at strengthening the Local Government Administration in Nigeria by guaranteeing the democratic existence, funding and tenure of the Local Government Councils.
6) The Legislature: This alteration seeks to among other things alter Sections 4, 51, 67, 68, 93 and 109 of the Constitution to provide immunity for members of the legislature in respect of words spoken or written at plenary sessions or committee proceedings.
Meanwhile, four of the Amendment Bills were not successful as they were voted against, they include:
1) Devolution of Powers: This seeks to alter the Second Schedule, Part I & II to move certain items to the Concurrent Legislative List to give more legislative powers to the States. It also delineates the extent to which the Federal Legislature and State Assemblies can legislate on items that have been removed to the Concurrent Legislative List.
2) State Creation and Boundary Adjustment: This essentially seeks to alter Section 8 of the Constitution to ensure that only democratically elected Local Government Councils participate in the process of State creation and boundary adjustment. It also removed ambiguities in the extant provisions to enhance clarity with respect to the procedure for state creation.
3) Citizenship and Indigeneship: This Bill seeks to alter Section 25 of the Constitution to guarantee a married woman’s right to choose either her Indigeneship by birth or by marriage for the purpose of appointment or election.
4) Deletion of Land Use Act from the Constitution: This Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the Land Use Act from the Constitution so that it can be sub