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Constitution Review Vote Goes to the States

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The National Assembly on 29th March 2022, transmitted 44 Constitution alteration bills to  State Houses of Assembly for voting. These bills were passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives on 1st March 2022, out of a total of 68 bills to amend the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. At a transmission ceremony in Abuja, Clerk of the National Assembly, Amos Ojo distributed copies of the 44 bills to the clerks of the State Houses of Assembly. The process for altering the Constitution as provided in section 9(2) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution requires that bills passed by the National Assembly have to be approved by resolution of the Houses of Assembly in at least 24 out of the country’s 36 States in order to be forwarded to the President for assent.

The Constitution review process of the 9th National Assembly saw citizens calling for fiscal federalism, judicial and electoral reforms, as well as other far-reaching reforms. In spite of this, some bills on key issues such as State Police and women’s political representation failed to pass. However, some of the other notable bills that passed include bills to create local government autonomy, provide for uniform retirement and pension rights for judicial officers, separate the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation/State from the Office of the  Minister/Commissioner for Justice. Some other notable bills that passed are the bills to grant the legislature power to summon the President or State Governor, provide for independent candidacy in elections, move items such as airports and railways from the Exclusive legislative list to the Concurrent legislative list.

To the anger of Nigerians, five bills seeking to improve women’s rights did not pass, including the bill to create specific seats for women in the Federal and State legislatures. Women’s political representation has dwindled in recent years and remains at the front burner of advocacy by pro-women groups.

In a related development, Speakers of State Houses of Assembly gathered at the First Quarter General Meeting of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria on Saturday, 2nd April 2022. The meeting which was held in Oyo State was themed, “The Imperative of on-going Alteration of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” In his welcome address, Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, stated that the Nigerian Legislature is poised to address the agitations of Nigerians on the need to alter the provisions of the Constitution. He urged his colleagues to commence work on the proposed amendments in order to deliver timeously.

Click to see the Constitution alteration bills passed by the National Assembly: