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NASS Prepares To Vote on Constitution Amendment Bills

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The National Assembly is getting set to begin plenary voting on the Constitution amendment bills before it. The National Assembly workplan on Constitution Review indicates that voting on the Constitution amendment bills may happen before the end of February. It appears that the National Assembly will want to see voting occur before the onset of political party primaries where candidates will be selected for the general elections. The Senate and House Ad-hoc Joint Committee on Constitution Review held a retreat where it deliberated on several Constitution amendment bills before it. The two-day joint retreat was supported by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) and held on 4th and 5th February 2022. One of the bills adopted by the Committees is a groundbreaking proposal to create specific seats for women in the National & State Legislative Houses. It is expected that this and other bills agreed on, will be presented to plenary for vote in each house of the National Assembly. At a retreat for Speakers and Clerks of State Houses of Assembly, on Friday, 11th February, the Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures who is also Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Abubakar Suleiman, committed to working with the National Assembly on the Constitution amendment review process. He enjoined the National and State Assemblies to utilise the on-going Constitution review process to address critical issues of national concern and subjects of agitation across the country.

The leadership of both houses of the National Assembly had at the resumption of plenary in January 2022, committed to having Constitution Alteration Bills forwarded to the State Houses of Assembly in the first quarter of 2022.  Observers had earlier expressed concern over the slow pace of the Constitution review process in the 9th Assembly, with the impending 2023 general elections and the lifetime of the Assembly gradually coming to an end. Citizens wondered whether several Constitution amendment bills on critical issues will see the light of day, in the midst of agitations and calls for reform and restructuring across the country. Some of the Constitution amendment bills in consideration include local government reform, to provide for the strengthening of local government council administration, State Police, women’s political representation, comprehensive judicial reforms, electoral reforms, fiscal federalism and power devolution, among others.