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Constitution Resources

Welcome to PLAC's Constitution Resources web page!

This page contains relevant information on Nigeria’s ongoing Constitution review process. The 9th National Assembly (2019 – 2023) is currently reviewing proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution. Consequently, the Constitution Review Committees of both chambers have invited submissions from the public on areas they want amended. This webpage shares background information on the process and links to pending bills on constitution amendment.

"If the fundamental law, or constitution, of a nation cannot be changed by legal means, then it cannot adapt to changing circumstances; as the disparity with circumstances widens, the risk of revolution increases. But if it can be changed too easily, then the fundamental principles and institutions it establishes are at risk of being swept away by a majority momentarily enraptured with a new idea"

Peter Suber, “Amendment” Christopher B. Gray (ed.), Philosophy of Law: An Encyclopedia, Garland Pub. Co, 1999, I.31-32.
  • To improve the existing constitution
  • To fill a gap or loophole in the existing constitution
  • To respond to political, socio-economic, religious, regional and ethnic concerns by citizens, communities and interest groups.

NASS Constitution Review Committees

S/N

NAMES

MEMBERSHIP

STATE

SENATORIAL DISTRICT

POLITICAL PARTY

1.      

Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege

Chairman

Delta

Delta Central

APC

2.      

Sen. Yahaya Abubakar Abdullahi

Member

Kebbi

Kebbi North

APC

3.      

Sen. Robert Ajayi Boroffice

Member

Ondo

Ondo North

APC

4.      

Sen. Abdullahi Aliyu Sabi

Member

Niger

Niger North

APC

5.      

Sen. Eyinnaya Abaribe

Member

Abia

Abia South

PDP

6.      

Sen. Emmanuel Bwacha

Member

Taraba

Taraba South

PDP

7.      

Sen. Philip Aduda

Member

FCT

FCT

PDP

8.      

Sen. Alhaji Sahabi Ya’u

Member

Zamfara

Zamfara North

PDP

9.      

Sen. Theodore Orji

Member

Abia

Abia Central

PDP

10.   

Sen. Aishatu Ahmed Dahiru

Member

Adamawa

Adamawa Central

APC

11.   

Sen. Stella Oduah

Member

Anambra

Anambra North

PDP

12.   

Sen. Albert Bassey Akpan

Member

Akwa Ibom

Akwa Ibom North East

PDP

13.   

Sen. Halliru Jika

Member

Bauchi

Bauchi Central

PDP

14.   

Sen. Degi Biobarakuma

Member

Bayelsa

Bayelsa East

APC

15.   

Sen. Gabriel Suswam

Member

Benue

Benue North East

PDP

16.   

Sen. Abubakar Kyari

Member

Borno

Borno North

APC

17.   

Sen. James Manager

Member

Delta

Delta South

PDP

18.   

Sen. Gershom Bassey

Member

Cross River

Cross River South

PDP

19.   

Sen. Samuel Egwu

Member

Ebonyi

Ebonyi North

PDP

20.   

Sen. Matthew Urhoghide

Member

Edo

Edo South

PDP

21.   

Sen. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele

Member

Ekiti

Ekiti Central

APC

22.   

Sen. Ike Ekweremadu

Member

Enugu

Enugu West

PDP

23.   

Sen. Danjuma Goje

Member

Gombe

Gombe Central

APC

24.   

Sen. Rochas Okorocha

Member

Imo

Imo West

APC

25.   

Sen. Sabo Nakudu Mohammed

Member

Jigawa

Jigawa South West

APC

26.   

Sen. Uba Sani

Member

Kaduna

Kaduna Central

APC

27.   

Sen. Kabiru Gaya

Member

Kano

Kano South

APC

28.   

Sen. Ahmed Baba-Kaita

Member

Katsina

Katsina North

APC

29.   

Sen. Adamu Aliero

Member

Kebbi

Kebbi Central

APC

30.   

Sen. Smart Adeyemi

Member

Kogi

Kogi West

APC

31.   

Sen. Sadiq Suleiman Umar

Member

Kwara

Kwara North

APC

32.   

Sen. Oluremi Tinubu

Member

Lagos

Lagos Central

APC

33.   

Sen. Abdullahi Adamu

Member

Nasarawa

Nasarawa West

APC

34.   

Sen. Mohammed Musa Sani

Member

Niger

Niger East

APC

35.   

Sen. Ibikunle Amosun

Member

Ogun

Ogun Central

APC

36.   

Sen. Nicholas Tofomowo

Member

Ondo

Ondo South

APC

37.   

Sen. Surajudeen Basiru Ajibola

Member

Osun

Osun Central

APC

38.   

Sen. Teslim Folarin

Member

Oyo

Oyo Central

APC

39.   

Sen. Hezekiah Dimka

Member

Plateau

Plateau Central

APC

40.   

Sen. George Sekibo

Member

Rivers

Rivers East

PDP

41.   

Sen. Aliyu Wammako

Member

Sokoto

Sokoto North

APC

42.   

Sen. Yusuf A. Yusuf

Member

Taraba

Taraba Central

APC

43.   

Sen. Ibrahim Geidam

Member

Yobe

Yobe East

APC

44.   

Sen. Hassan Mohammed Gusau

Member

Zamfara

Zamfara Central

APC

45.   

Sen. Bala Ibn Na’allah

Member

Kebbi

Kebbi South

APC

46.   

Sen. Ibrahim Shekarau

Member

Kano

Kano Central

APC

47.   

Sen. Kasshim Shettima

Member

Borno

Borno Central

APC

48.   

Sen. Lawal Gumau

Member

Bauchi

Bauchi South

APC

49.   

Sen. Tanko Al-Makura

Member

Nasarawa

Nasarawa South

APC

50.   

Sen. Yakubu Oseni

Member

Kogi

Kogi Central

APC

51.   

Sen. Abdulfatai Buhari

Member

Oyo

Oyo North

APC

52.   

Sen. Biodun Olujimi

Member

Ekiti

Ekiti South

APC

53.   

Sen. Uche Ekwunife

Member

Anambra

Anambra Central

PDP

54.   

Sen. Chukwuka Utazi

Member

Enugu

Enugu North

PDP

55.   

Sen. Eyakenyi Akon

Member

Akwa Ibom

Akwa Ibom South

PDP

56.   

Sen. Rose Oko (Deceased)

Member

Cross River

Cross River North

PDP

S/N

NAMES

MEMBERSHIP

STATE

FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY

POLITICAL PARTY

1.      

Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase

Chairman

Plateau

Wase

PDP

2.      

 

Hon. Hassan Doguwa

Deputy Chairman

Kano

Doguwa/
Tudun Wada

APC

3.      

Hon. Peter Akpatason

Member

Edo

Akoko Edo

APC

4.      

Hon. Monguno Mohammed Tahir

Member

Borno

Monguno/
Nganzai/Marte

APC

5.      

Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha

Member

Abia

Isukwuato/
Umunneochi

APC

6.      

Hon. Ndudi Elumelu

Member

Delta

Aniocha North/
Aniocha South/
Oshimili

PDP

7.      

Hon. Toby Okechukwu

Member

Enugu

Aninri/Agwu/
Oji River

PDP

8.      

Hon. Gideon Gwani

Member

Kaduna

Kaura

APC

9.      

Hon. Adesegun Adekoya

Member

Ogun

Ijebu North/
Ijebu East/Ogun Waterside

PDP

10.   

Hon. John Dyegh

Member

Benue

Gboko/Tarka

APC

11.   

Hon. Haruna Mshelia

Member

Borno

Askira Uba/
Hawul

APC

12.   

Hon. Aishatu Dukku

Member

Gombe

Dukku/Nafada

APC

13.   

Hon. Usman Danjuma Shiddi

Member

Taraba

Ibi/Wukari

APC

14.   

Hon. Galadima Zakariyau

Member

Yobe

Bade/Jakusko

APC

15.   

Hon. Abubakar Hassan Fulata

Member

Jigawa

Birniwa/Guri/
Kiri Kasama

APC

16.   

Hon, Tajudeen Abbas

Member

Kaduna

Zaria

APC

17.   

Hon. Ali Muhammad Wudil

Member

Kano

Wudil/Garko

APC

18.   

Hon. Simon Mwadkwon

Member

Plateau

Barkin Ladi/
Riyom

PDP

19.   

Hon. Umar Muhammed Jega

Member

Kebbi

Aliero/
Gwandu/Jega

APC

20.   

Hon. Joseph Asuku Bello

Member

Kogi

Adavi/Okehi

APC

21.   

Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta

Member

Abia

Ukwa East/
Ukwa West

PDP

22.   

Hon. Ahmad Yunusa Abubakar

Member

Gombe

Yamaltu/Deba

APC

23.   

Hon. Iduma Enwo Igariwey

Member

Ebonyi

Afikpo North/Afikpo South

PDP

24.   

Hon. Patrick Asadu

Member

Edo

Orhionmwon/
Uhunmwode

APC

25.   

Hon. Zainab Gimba

Member

Borno

Bama/Ngala/
Kala-Balge

APC

26.   

Hon. Luke Onofiok

Member

Akwa Ibom

Etinan/Nsit Ibom
/Nsit Ubium

PDP

27.   

Hon. Salame Balarabe

Member

Sokoto

Illela/
Gwadabawa

APC

28.   

Hon. Idris Yerima Abubakar

Member

Yobe

Fika/Fune

APC

29.   

Hon. Beni Lar

Member

Plateau

Langtang North/Lantang
South

PDP

30.   

Hon. Lawal Umar Muda

Member

Bauchi

Toro

PDP

31.   

Hon. Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum

Member

Taraba

Takum/Donga/
Ussa

PDP

32.   

Hon. Omowumi Ogunlola

Member

Ekiti

Ijero/Ekiti West/
Efon

APC

33.   

Hon. Babajimi Benson

Member

Lagos

Ikorodu

APC

34.   

Hon. Femi Fakeye

Member

Osun

Boluwaduro/
Ifedayo/Ila

APC

35.   

Hon. Ibrahim Isiaka

Member

Ogun

Ifo/Ewekoro

APC

36.   

Hon. Adeogun Adejoro

Member

Ondo

Akoko South East/Akoko
South West

APC

37.   

Hon. Sarki Dahiru

Member

Nasarawa

Lafia/Obi

APC

38.   

Hon. Bitrus Kwamoti Laori

Member

Adamawa

Demsa/Lamurde/Numan

PDP

39.   

Hon. Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim

Member

Yobe

Damaturu/Gujiba/Gulani/Tarmuwa

APC

40.   

Hon. Ahmed Liman Usman

Member

Katsina

Matazu/Musawa

APC

41.   

Hon. Ahmed Shehu

Member

Zamfara

Bungudu/Maru

PDP

42.   

Hon. Vincent Ofumelu

Member

Anambra

Oyi/Ayamelum

PDP

43.   

Hon. Ikenna Elezieanya

Member

Imo

Owerri Municipal/Owerri North/
Owerri West

PDP

44.   

Hon. Blessing Onuh

Member

Benue

Otukpo/Ohimini

APGA

45.   

Hon. Daniel Effiong Asuquo

Member

Cross River

Akamkpa/Biase

PDP

46.   

Hon. Ben Igbakpa

Member

Delta

Ethiope East/
Ethiope West

PDP

47.   

Hon. Oberuakpefe Anthony Afe

Member

Delta

Okpe/Sapele/
Uvwie

PDP

48.   

Hon. Sergius Ogun

Member

Edo

Esan North East/
Esan South East

PDP

49.   

Hon. Peter Owolabi

Member

Ekiti

Ikole/Oye

APC

50.   

Hon. Ofor Chukwuegbo

Member

Enugu

Enugu North/
Enugu South

PDP

51.   

Hon. Sokodabo Hassan Usman

Member

FCT

Kuje/Abaji/Gwagwalada/
Kwali

PDP

52.   

Hon. Omar Bio Mohammed

Member

Kwara

Baruten/Kaiama

APC

53.   

Hon. Adewunmi Onanuga

Member

Ogun

Ikenne/Shagamu/
Remo North

APC

54.   

Hon. Taiwo Oluga

Member

Osun

Ayedaade/Irewole/Isokan

APC

55.   

Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe

Member

Oyo

Oluyole

APC

56.   

Hon. Boma Goodhead

Member

Rivers

Akuku Toru/
Asari Toru

PDP

57.   

Hon. Kingsley Chinda

Member

Rivers

Obio Akpor

PDP

58.   

Hon. Miriam Onuoha

Member

Imo

Isiala Mbano/Okigwe/Onuimo

PDP

59.   

Hon. Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu

Member

Anambra

Onitsha North/Onitsha South

PDP

60.   

Hon. Auwal Jatau Mohammed

Member

Bauchi

Zaki

PDP

61.   

Hon. Sada Soli

Member

Katsina

Jibia/Kaita

APC

62.   

Hon. Shehu Koko

Member

Kebbi

Koko Besse/Maiyama

APC

63.   

Hon. Komsol Longgap

Member

Plateau

Mikang/Qua-anpan/Shedam

APC

64.   

Hon. Alhassan Kabiru RumRum

Member

Kano

Rano/Bunkure/Kibiya

APC

65.   

Hon. Aminu Ibrahim Malle

Member

Taraba

Jalingo/Yorro/
Zing

PDP

Issues for the 9th NASS Public Hearings

       Senate

  1. Gender Equity/Increased participation of Women and Vulnerable groups in governance
  2. The Federal Structure in governance and Power Devolution
  3. Local Government Administration/Local Government autonomy
  4. Public Revenue, Fiscal Federalism and Revenue Allocation
  5. Constitutional Provision for the Establishment of State Police
  6. Judicial Reform - Adjudication of election and pre-election matters and other justice delivery concerns.
  7. Electoral Reforms that will make INEC deliver transparent, credible, free and fair elections, Political parties, Independent candidature and election management
  8. Socio-economic rights as contained in Chapter II of the Constitution.
  9. Residency and indigeneship
  10. Immunity – Removal of immunity in prima facie criminal cases
  11. Time-line for Assent of Bills and Passage of Appropriation Bill
  12. States and Local Government Creation
  13. Strengthening the independence of institutions like the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Auditor General of the Federation and Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
  14. F.C.T. Administration
  15. The Legislature and Legislative Bureaucracy
  16. Constitutional Roles for Traditional Rulers
  17. Any other issue that promote the unity and good governance of the Nigerian nation.

    House of Representatives

  1. Electoral Matters
  2. Local Governments
  3. Judiciary
  4. Fundamental Human Rights
  5. Gender equity and increased participation of women and vulnerable groups in governance
  6. Immunity
  7. Indigeneship and Residency
  8. Devolution of Power
  9. Strengthening the Independence of Institutions
  10. Traditional Institutions
  11. States and Local Governments Creation
  12. Legislature and Legislative Bureaucracy

The Constitution Amendment Process

constitution-amendment-process

The Constitution stipulates that any amendment to the Constitution has to come by way of an Act. However, it is processed in a manner distinct from ordinary bills as it goes through a more stringent procedure. While Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution details the steps in amending its provisions, it contains no provision on the methodology or timelines to be adopted in developing or adopting amendment proposals or clauses. It also makes no provision for a referendum.

A legislator, group of legislators, the executive or judiciary may propose an amendment to the Constitution. Individuals or groups seeking an amendment may also do so, but through their legislators. Submission of memoranda and participation in public hearings are also platforms through which citizens can propose amendments to the Constitution.

The Amendment Process

  • A Constitution amendment proposal is usually addressed to the Presiding Officer of the Senate or House, who then refers the bill to their respective Rules and Business Committees for scheduling on the Order Paper for introduction.
  • Proposed amendments are usually considered at separate sittings of each House. The consideration of a Constitution Amendment Bill in each House is as follows:
    • First Reading: Here, the long title of the bill is read by the Clerk of the House.
    • Second Reading: After the bill is read a second time and its general principles debated, the proposed amendments are forwarded to the Committee on the Review of the Constitution.
    • The Committee then reviews the bill and organizes public hearings for further consultations.
    • The amendment proposals are then compiled into one or separate bills and presented to the Chamber at its Plenary. Every legislator has to vote either in support or against each specific clause in the Bill. A two-thirds majority of all the members of each house or chamber is needed for each clause to pass.  

Note that: where it borders on the creation of new states, boundary adjustments, new local government areas, fundamental human rights and the mode for altering the Constitution, a four-fifths majority is needed.

    • If the bill meets the required threshold, it progresses to the Third Reading stage.
    • If two-thirds of each chamber pass the bill without amendments or differences, it is then transmitted to the State Houses of Assembly for concurrence. However, if an amendment occurs at either of the chambers or there are differences in the Senate and House of Representatives versions respectively, a Conference Committee will be set up to harmonise differences on the bill before sending it to the States for concurrence. Note that if both Houses are not able to harmonise positions, the Bill will be returned to the respective chambers for fresh voting.
    • At the State Assembly level, a simple majority vote of approval of each clause by two-thirds of the States is required for each amendment to come into effect. This is about 24 of Nigeria’s 36 States. Note that in practice, State Assemblies have been known to “step down” or “defer” a bill they are unable to decide on instead of voting “No.” This still does not translate to a “Yes” vote.
    • Following concurrence by the States, they send reports on their voting on the bill(s) back to the National Assembly for adoption. Thereafter, the Clerk of the National Assembly sends a clean copy of the Bill(s) to the President for assent.

Note that the Constitution does not expressly prescribe the requirement of the President’s Assent for constitution amendment bills, however, the Federal High Court in a 2010 decision ruled that the President's signature is required since constitution alterations come by way of an Act. It has also been argued that it is a way of ensuring checks and balances.

For more details on Process of Amendment of the Constitution, see: PLAC Step-by- Step Guide to the Process of Amending  the Nigerian Constitution

Quick Facts on Amendments to Nigeria's Constitution

  • The Constitution can be defined as the organic law of the land from which all other laws derive their validity. It is also referred to as the “Grundnorm.” Nigeria’s Supreme court describes it as “a system or body of fundamental principles according to which a nation, a state, or body or organisation is constituted and governed.”
  • Nigeria has experienced many constitution changes since the colonial period. These colonial constitutions were not democratic, as they did not meet the minimum requirements of a democratic constitution. Many say that Nigeria has never had a truly democratic constitution through the years of  1960, 1963, 1979 and even with the 1999 Constitution of the 4th Republic. The 1999 Constitution, which was adopted on May 29, 1999, is in many ways, a revival of the 1979 Constitution.

     

  • Nigeria operates a rigid Constitution, which means that the process for its amendment is cumbersome and time consuming. In spite of this, Nigeria has had four successful amendments to the Constitution namely the First, Second, Third and Fourth Constitution Alteration Acts.  The Constitution as it is presently drafted, does not provide for how the people can create an entirely new Constitution. Therefore, only a piecemeal or incremental approach to amendment is currently possible.

     

  • In 2010, the 6th National Assembly was able to successfully amend the 1999 Constitution for the first time. Several provisions of the Constitution dealing with electoral matters were amended. Following this, the Electoral Act was also amended in line with the Constitution amendments. Another notable constitution amendment in the 6th National Assembly was the inclusion of the the National Industrial Court of Nigeria as a court of superior record.
  • The 2010 constitution amendment was a major milestone in the history of constitution making in Nigeria because it was the first time that a democratically elected legislature had succeeded in amending the Constitution. Previous amendments to the Nigerian Constitution had been made by either the colonial or military regimes.
  • Despite the forgoing significant legislative success recorded in the 6th National Assembly, more agitations were canvassed in the 7th National Assembly which resulted in the 4th Constitution Alteration Bills to address many unresolved contentious national issues which were either not accommodated by the previous Alteration Acts or which emerged in response to political, socio-economic, religious, regional and ethnic concerns by many Nigerians.

     

  • The House of Representatives adopted a new approach of engaging public participation in the Alteration making process via hearings called the “Peoples Public Session” in the 360 federal constituencies, while the Senate maintained its conventional approach through public hearings at National and Zonal Levels.

     

  • The 7th National Assembly was successful in obtaining consensus on many key issues. Till date, their amendments remain the most ambitious and comprehensive revision to the 1999 Constitution, addressing a wide range of issues canvassed by citizens. About  66 sections and six schedules were amended. Unfortunately, the bill was not assented by  Former President Goodluck Jonathan primarily due to a proposed amendment to section 9, which sought to dispense with the President’s signature in constitution amendment.  This led to a  deadlock which was not resolved by the Supreme Court, to whom the matter was presented  before the end of the administration.
  • Constitution Alteration efforts since the 6th National Assembly have been mostly last minute. Most often, the alteration exercises were rounded up at the very tail end of the tenure of the Assembly that embarked upon it.

Bills Referred to the 9th NASS Constitution Review Committees Based on Information from Its Votes and Proceedings

Since the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly, several constitution amendment bills have been proposed by lawmakers and referred to the Ad-hoc Committee for further legislative action.

The 1999 Constitution Alteration Bills currently before the committee and expected to be considered in the review process include the following:

  • SB 323: A Bill to Alter sections 31 and 318 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for indigeneship by application;
    SB 324: A Bill to Alter sections 65 and 106 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for the identification of women as indigenes of a State by marriage when running for office;
    SB 336: A Bill to Alter sections 76,116,132,178 and 285 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for the expansion of the time for elections to the National Assembly, State Houses of Assembly, the office of President, and office of Governor, and amendment of the time for the determination of pre-election matters so as to provide sufficient time for the conduct of party primaries and final determination of pre-election matters by the courts prior to the election day;
    SB 325: A Bill to Alter sections 147, 171 and 192 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to specify the minimum number of Youths and Women appointed as Ministers, Ambassadors and State Commissioners;
    SB 326: A Bill to Alter section 213 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to specify the time frame for the conduct of population census;
    SB 318: A Bill to Alter section 251 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to preclude the Federal High Court from entertaining pre-election disputes emanating from congresses, conferences, conventions or other meetings convened by political parties for the purpose of electing members of its executive committees or other governing bodies;
    SB 319: A Bill to Alter section 257 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to preclude the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory from entertaining pre-election disputes emanating from congresses, conferences, conventions or other meetings convened by political parties for the purpose of electing members of its executive committees or other governing bodies;
    SB 320: A Bill to Alter section 272 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to preclude the High Court of a State from entertaining pre-election disputes emanating from congresses, conferences, conventions or other meetings convened by political parties for the purpose of electing members of its executive committees or other governing bodies;
    SB 321: A Bill to Alter section 285 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for the establishment of separate Tribunals to hear and determine Pre-election matters and Election petitions respectively, in the Presidential, National and State Houses of Assembly, and Governorship elections;
    SB 204: A Bill to Alter sections 64,105 and 311 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to designate a definite day for convening the first session and inauguration of elected Members of  the National Assembly and State House of Assembly and to provide saving provisions regarding the Standing Orders of the legislative houses dissolved by the President and Governor;
    SB 48: A Bill to Alter sections 82 and 122 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to reduce the period within which the President or the Governor of a State may authorize withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the absence of an Appropriation Act from 6 months to 3 months; and for other purpose;
    SB 75: A Bill to Alter sections 65,131, 106 and 177 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for the Minimum Qualification for election into the National and States Assembly, Office of the President and Governors, and Other related matters;
    SB 259: A Bill to Alter sections 81 and 121 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to specify the period within which the President or Governor of a State presents the Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly or House of Assembly, and other related matters;
    SB 248: A Bill to Alter section 214 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for the establishment of State Police and to ensure effective community policing in Nigeria and for matters connected thereto;
    SB 73: A Bill to Alter the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to amend sections 138 and 139 of the Electoral Act, 2020 to reduce the unlawful exclusion of a political party Logo on a Ballot Paper to a Pre-election matters;
    SB 306: A Bill to Alter sections 34, 35, 39, 214, 215, 216 and Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to replace the name “Nigeria Police Force” with “Nigerian Police” to reflect their core mandate of providing Civil Services;
    SB 274: A Bill to Alter sections 3 and 4 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to give recognition to the Six Geo-political Zones and to further introduce clear demarcation by creating the Federal and State Legislative list as a substitute to the existing legislative lists;
    SB 316: A Bill to Alter sections 34(2), 35(3)(b), 42(3), 84(4), 89(2), 129(2), 162(2), 197, 214, 215, 216, Second Schedule, Part I of the Third Schedule, and Part II of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for the establishment of State Police;
    SB 109: A Bill to Alter section 162 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to give Local Government Council direct control of their Finances;
    SB 218: A Bill to Alter section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for an upward review of the Derivation Formula for the inclusion of Solid Minerals and Hydro Power in the Derivation Principle;
    SB 240: A Bill to Alter sections 16 and 33 of the 1999 Constitution to make provisions for Right to Food and Food Security in Nigeria;
    SB 335: A Bill to Alter sections 7(4), 7(5), 65 (2)(b), 65(2)(c), 106(d), 106 ( e), 131(e), 131(d), 171 (c), 171(d), and 171(e) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make provision for independent Candidate in an election to the offices of President, Governor, Senator, House of Representatives, House of Assembly, Chairman and Councilors of LGA/Area Councils of the FCT;
    SB 357: A Bill to Alter the First Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make provision for the change of the name of the Area referred to as “Egbado” in Ogun State to “Yewa”
    SB 361: A Bill to Alter sections 48, 49, 71, 147, and 300 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to allow for more representation in the National Assembly for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;
    SB 322: A Bill to Alter sections 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to qualify criminal liability for certain public officers; and to provide for qualification of the immunity clause to exclude immunity for Public Officers referred to in section 308 from criminal liability where the offence involves misappropriation of funds belonging to the Federal, State or Local Government and also the use of thugs to foment violence;
    SB 253: A Bill to Alter sections 4, 51, 67, 68, 93 and 109 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide immunity for Members of the legislature in respect of words spoken or written at Plenary Sessions or Committee proceedings and institutionalise legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution;
    SB 184: A Bill to Alter section 162 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make Financial Provisions for the Financial Autonomy of Local Government Councils;
    SB 253: A Bill to Alter section 253 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to reflect the establishment and core functions of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps;
    SB 327: A Bill to Alter sections 1 and 2 of the Sixth Schedule to provide for a Committee comprised of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, President of the Court of Appeal and Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to appoint Tribunal Judges for Presidential, Governorship and National Assembly Election Petition;
    SB 74: A Bill to Alter section 54 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for quorum at the inaugural sitting of the National and State Assembly;
    SB 514: A Bill to Alter section 14 and Part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for the Federal Character;
    SB 261: A Bill to Alter section 9 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for the procedure for passing a Constitution Alteration Bill where the President withholds assent;
    SB 276: A Bill to Alter sections 34(2), 162(2), 162(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to constitutionally end degrading, treatment of suspects arrested and in detention; to promote equity in distribution of Revenue derivable from sources within a locality by ensuring more funds to areas of derivation;
    SB 275: A Bill to Alter section 285 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to address the issue of intervening event occurring within the stipulated period for hearing and determination of an election petition or appeal before a tribunal or court of appeal;
    SB 388: A Bill to Alter Part I of the First Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make provision for change of name of the area referred to as ‘afikpo’ in ebonyi state to ‘edda’
    SB 399: A Bill to Alter sections 65, 106, 131, 132(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make provisions for independent candidacy in general elections in Nigeria

It would be recalled the President of the Senate, Sen. Ahmad Lawan (APC: Yobe) had announced the Membership of the Ad-hoc Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution at the Senate’s plenary session of Thursday, 6 February 2020.

  • HB 754: A Bill to Alter sections 65, 106 and 177 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to allow for a private candidate to stand for an elective position in Nigeria not being sponsored by any of the registered political party.
  • HB 899: A Bill to Alter sections 77 and 117 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for Diaspora Voting.
  • HB 996: A Bill to Alter section 285 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make further provisions relating to time within which to file and determine election petitions and appeals.
  • HB 1059: A Bill to Alter sections 142 and 187 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to preserve the elections of candidates to the Office of the President or Governor whose Deputies have been found to have deficiencies in their qualifications.
  • HB 338: A Bill to Alter section 7 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make comprehensive provisions for the Offices of the Local Government Council Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Councilors and guarantee their tenures.
  • HB 505: A Bill to Alter section 7 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for the financial and administrative autonomy of Local Government Councils and uniformity of tenure across the country.
  • HB 153: A Bill to Alter Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to establish the independence of the National Judicial Council (NJC) by allowing Members of NJC appoint their own Secretary rather than being recommended for appointment from outside the NJC by a lower body of the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
  • HB 840: A Bill to Alter sections 291 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to allow for constituency in the retirement age and allowances of Judicial Officers of Superior Courts of record.
  • HB 1056: A Bill to Alter sections 287 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to set time within which civil and criminal causes and matters are heard and determined at trial and appellate courts in order to eliminate unnecessary delay in administration of justice.
  • HB 1062: A Bill to Alter sections 121, 124, Part II of the Third Schedule, 84, 162, 197, 201, 271, 276, 281, 289, 292 and Part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide a legal framework for financial and administrative independence for the State Judiciary and establish the State Judicial Councils.
  • HB 1063: A Bill to Alter section 254 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to delete the entire provisions on the ground that the Evidence Act, the Criminal Procedure Act and Criminal Procedure Code are repealed and replaced by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act; and that the Evidence Act and Administration of Criminal Justice Act contain specific provisions which make each applicable to Federal Offences regardless of Court.
  • HB 218: A Bill to Alter sections 150, 174, 195, 211 and 315 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to introduce the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation distinct and separate from the Office of the Minister.
  • HB 596: A Bill to Alter sections 18, 45, and 318 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make free, compulsory and basic education a fundamental right of all citizens under Chapter IV.
  • HB 325: A Bill to Alter section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to extend immunity to the Presiding Officers of the Legislative Arm of Government.
  • HB 767: A Bill to Alter section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to restrict legal proceedings against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Courts and the Chief Justices of the State High Courts and FCT.
  • HB 612: A Bill to Alter sections 26 and 28 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for citizenship by Marriage.
  • HB 106: A Bill to Alter sections 81 and 82 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to ensure that the Appropriation Act commences on the first day of January of every year.
  • HB 328: A Bill to Alter Part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to include presiding officers of the National assembly in the Membership of the National Security Council.
  • HB 359: A Bill to Alter sections 147 and 192 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to set a timeframe for submitting the names of Ministerial Nominees or Commissioners with portfolios attached and evidence of declaration of assets and liabilities prior to confirmation.
  • HB 440: A Bill to Alter sections 4 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to strengthen the principle of separation of powers and guarantee the independence of different Arms of Government.
  • HB 511: A Bill to Alter section 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to prescribe as an offence the Contempt of a Legislative House.
  • HB 839 A Bill to Alter section 121 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to reflect the authority of persons mandated to make and receive payment for funding of Houses of Assembly and Judiciaries of States from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.
  • HB 1216: A Bill to Alter sections 67 and 108 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to grant the two chambers of the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly powers to summon the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Governors of States to answer questions on issues of national security or any matter whatsoever, over which the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly have power to make laws.
  • HB 804: A Bill to Alter sections 153, 197 and the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for Traditional Rulers Council to advise the President and Governors on culture and tradition and help in maintaining peace and order in their traditional domain.
  • HB 1111: A Bill to Alter section 215 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make the appointment of Commissioner of Police of States subject to the recommendation of the Inspector General of Police and make the recruitment of Constables and Cadets the responsibility of the IGP.
  • HB 755: A Bill to Alter Part I of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to devolve to States some items in the Exclusive Legislative List.
  • HB 950: A Bill to Alter Part II of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to amongst others, transfer the subject matter of Minimum Wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List.
  • HB 1070: A Bill to Alter Part I of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide that the Federal and State Governments shall have Concurrent Legislative Authority with respect to Railway.
  • HB 1164 : A Bill to Alter Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to remove prisons from the Exclusive Legislative List and to provide for the establishment of Correctional Centres in the Concurrent List.
  • HB 1235: A Bill to Alter section 254 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to transfer Labour, Industrial Relations, Industrial Dispute and Minimum Wage from the Executive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List.

Previous Constitution Amendment Efforts

The 7th National Assembly was inaugurated in 2011 while their respective Ad-hoc Constitution Review Committees were set up in early 2012. The Senate committee was headed by then Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, while that of the House of Representatives was headed by then Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha.

The Committees issued calls for memoranda from the public via advertisements in both the print and electronic media. The call for memoranda by both chambers highlighted the following priority issues:

Fiscal Federalism; Financial Autonomy and Independence of State Houses of Assembly and Local Government Councils;  Mode of Alteration of the Constitution; Citizenship and Indigene-ship question; Justiciability of Chapter II of the Constitution; Independent Candidacy in Elections; Diaspora Voting; Separation of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation from that of the Minister of Justice; Removal of Immunity for the President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors on criminal matters; Devolution of Powers from the Federal level to the States; Reduction of the items on the Exclusive Legislative List, etc.; Prohibition of interlocutory appeals in election matters; Introduction of Single Tenure of Office; Abolition of the existing bicameral legislature; Rotation of power among the geo-political zones; Abolition of States Independent Electoral Commissions; Creation of new States; Establishment of State Police;  Mayoral Status for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; Constitutional role for traditional rulers; Recognition of the Six Geo-political Zones in the Constitution; Deleting the following Acts of the National Assembly from the Constitution: The Land Use Act, NYSC Act, Public Complaints Commission Act and the National Security Agencies Act (Section 315); Amendment of provisions related to amendment of the Constitution, State Creation and Boundary Adjustment to remove ambiguities; Rotation of Executive Offices;  Gender and Special Groups.

Civil society organizations, professional associations, communities, several interest groups and members of the general public responded to this call by submitting memoranda to the National Assembly. They also mobilised participation in nationwide public hearings, which was called the “People’s Public Sessions” by the House of Representatives and held all over the 360 Federal Constituencies. The Senate on its part, held zonal and national hearings. 

Outcome

The National Assembly developed bills based on submissions and responses from the public hearings. About 66 sections were amended and put into one single bill. Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by the former President, Good luck Jonathan over contentious clauses in the bill and this could not be resolved before the end of the 7th Assembly.

Link to Summary of Constitutional Provisions Amended by the 7th National Assembly, Adopted by the State Houses of Assembly and Transmitted for Assent

Letter of President Goodluck Jonathan withholding Assent to the Constitution Alteration Bills

Following the failure of the constitution amendment bill of the 7th Assembly, the 8th Assembly adopted a different strategy of putting amendment proposals in separate bills based on subject matter. The aim was to avoid lumping contentious provisions with amendments on which consensus had been built or which stood  a better chance of passage. With the 7th Assembly, the disagreement between the executive and legislature over dispensing with the President’s signature for Constitution alterations in section 9 led to the failure of every other amendment as the provisions were all contained in one single alteration bill.

Following the change in strategy, the 8th Assembly was able to successfully amend a number of provisions of the Constitution. Out of about 12 separate bills transmitted to the President, 5 were assented.

Outcome

Constitutional Amendment Bills that were Assented/Signed into law by the President

  1. Financial Autonomy for State Legislatures and Judiciary - Section 121
  2. Political Parties and Electoral Matters - Sections 134, 179 and 255A
  3. Restriction on Tenure of the President and Governor - Sections 137 and 182
  4. Determination of Pre-Election Matters  - Section 285
  5. Reduction of Age for Certain Elective Offices - Sections 65, 106 and 131

Constitution Amendment Bills Vetoed by the President

  1. The Legislature - Sections 4,51,67,68, 93 and 109
  2. Consequential Amendment on Civil Defence - Section 213
  3. Procedure for Overriding Presidential Veto in Constitution Alteration - Section 9
  4. The Nigeria Police Force - Sections 34, 35, 39, 214, 215, 216 and Third Schedule
  5. Authorisation of Expenditure 1 - Sections 82 and 122
  6. Authorisation of Expenditure 2 - Sections 81 and 121
  7. Submissions from the Judiciary

Letter of President Muhammadu Buhari withholding Assent to the Constitution Alteration Bills

Constitution Amendment Bills not Adopted by State Assemblies

  1. Distributable Pool Account - Section 162
  2. Local Government - Sections 7, 318, and Part 1 of Fifth Schedule
  3. Independent Candidature - Sections 7, 65, 106, 131, 177 and 228
  4. Presidential Assent - Section 58
  5. Financial Independence for the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and the State - Sections 81 and 121

List of Constitution Alteration Bills Approved by the 8th National Assembly and Transmitted to the States for Adoption

Constitution Amendments Bills passed with differences by the two chambers

    1. Composition of Council of States - Third Schedule of the Constitution
    2. Separation of Office of the Accountant General of the Federal Government from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation - Section 84
    3. Investment and Securities Tribunal  - Sections 6, 84, 240, 243, 254, 292, 294, 295, 318, Third and Seventh Schedules
    4. Timeframe for submission of the names of ministerial/commissioner nominees respectively - Sections 147 and 192

 

Constitution Amendment Bills proposed by the Constitution Review Committees but not passed by the National Assembly

  1. Devolution of Powers - Second Schedule (rejected by both Houses)
  2. State Creation and Boundary Adjustment - Section 8 (rejected by both Houses)
  3. Appointment of Minister from FCT - Section 147 (passed by only Senate)
  4. Change of Name of Some Local Government Councils - First Schedule (passed by only Senate)
  5. Separation of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and State from the Minister/Commissioner for Justice - Sections 150, 174, 195 211, 318, Third Schedule (passed by only Senate)
  6. Deletion of NYSC Decree, Public Complaints Commission, National Securities Agencies Act from the Constitution - Section 315 (passed by only Senate)
  7. Deletion of Land Use Act from the Constitution - Section 315 (rejected by both Houses)
  8. Deletion of State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) from the Constitution  - Section 197, Third Schedule Part II (passed by only Senate)
  9. Citizenship and Indigeneship - Section 26 - to give constitutional  backing to the rights of married Nigerian women to claim either the indigene status of their spouses’ state or their own state of origin (rejected by both Houses).

Key Dates

Wednesday, 26th May - Thursday, 27th May, 2021: Zonal Public Hearings on Constitution Alteration Bills by the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review.

Thursday, 3rd June - Friday, 4th June, 2021: National Public Hearing on Constitution Alteration Bills by the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review.

Tuesday, 1st June - Wednesday, 2nd June 2021: Zonal Public Hearings on Constitution Alteration Bills by the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review.

 

Glossary of Legislative and Constitutional Terms

Act                          

A bill passed by the legislature.

Action                                  

Any step of legislative procedure relating to a proposed law.

Ad Hoc Committees

Committees appointed for special purposes which are dissolved upon completion of assignment.

 Adjourn

Discontinuation of legislative proceedings, often to prevent further consideration of an issue.

 Adjournment

Termination of legislative activities at the conclusion of each legislative day with indication of the next day’s meeting time.  Also refers to termination of legislative activities at the ending of the (first) regular session of a Legislature.

 Adoption

Indicates approval or acceptance and can refer to amendments or entire legislative measures.

 Amendment

Any modification, deletion, or addition, which alters form or substance of legislation. A change proposed to a motion, a bill, a written question or a committee report with the intention of improving it or providing an alternative. Amendment” does not include replacing the entire constitution.

 Appropriation

A legislative authorisation to make expenditures and incur obligations.

 Bicameral

A two-house legislature.

Bill

A proposed law that the National Assembly or a State Assembly is asked to consider. 

Budget

Estimates of proposed expenditures and expected revenues for a fiscal year.  

By-law

Rule made by a local body or council under authority of a statue.

 By-election

Held to fill vacancies in the legislature which arise before the end of the legislative term.

 Caucus

A group of party members often formed within the legislature to develop strategies for promoting party ideology.

 Chair

The presiding officer at a meeting of the National Assembly or a Committee.

 Clerk

An officer of the House or Senate who is responsible for its operation and other legislative staff.

 Committee

A body of legislators of a chamber - Senate or House of Representatives -  appointed for a special or general purpose or to perform specific tasks. The chamber may delegate any functions exercisable by it to its committees but they do not have final decision making authority and can only make recommendations to the chamber on any matter referred to it.

 Concurrence

Agreement. Means that one House “accepts” the actions of the other House.

 Concurrent

At the same time as.

 Concurrent power/legislative list

Powers that are shared by federal and state governments under the constitution. The concurrent legislative list in the 2nd schedule to the 1999 Constitution defines areas in which both the National and State Assemblies can legislate. Where laws in an area of concurrency conflict, the federal law supersedes.

 Conference Committee

A committee of members of the House and Senate that confers on differences in a bill, which have passed both Houses.

 Confirmation

Senate action with respect to executive appointments requiring advice and consent.

 Consolidated Revenue Fund

Federal Government purse/account into which its income and revenues are paid and from which public expenditure is met; exclusively owned and managed by the Federal Government. The National Budget is funded from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation while State budgets are funded from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.

 Consolidation (of bills)

Different bills on the same subject merged together.

 Consensus

A general agreement about something or on an issue. Does not have to be unanimous.

 Consideration

To discuss or review a bill either by legislators or a committee with the view to reaching a decision.

 Constituency

A geographically defined area or unit in which voters elect one or more representatives to the legislature. Also called electoral district.

 Constituent assembly

An entity or body created and elected by the people to prepare a constitution. This may or may not be the legislature but should have constituent power i.e. the legal power and the people’s authority to create a constitution. The form of such assemblies varies widely across jurisdictions and members may be elected by popular vote or chosen through other means.

 Constituent unit

A constitutionally recognised geographical unit in a federation, such as a state. In federal systems, the constitution divides sovereign powers between a federal authority and the constituent units i.e. the states

 Constitution

The  supreme or fundamental law of a country; a foundation upon which other laws or norms derive their validity. It outlines the structure and operation of institutions of governance, rules of procedure of that government, rights and responsibilities of citizens, use of public funds, etc.

 Constitutional review

A process of considering whether an existing constitution ought to be amended which may or may not end in a new constitution. In the Nigerian context, it refers to the actual process of altering the provisions of the constitution.

 Constitutional reform

Amendment or replacement of the constitution or wider changes in society and governance.

 Constitutionalism

A practice or philosophy of adherence to constitutional principles involving limits on the power of the government put by those constitutional principles and words of the constitution.

 Constitutionality

Acting in accordance with the provisions or principles of a constitution

 Debate

A discussion of a subject under consideration by the legislature. It could be on a bill or motion before the chamber.

 Decentralisation

Transfer of power from the central government to the states and local governments to enable exercise of administrative, legislative and/or fiscal authority.

 Deliberation

Fair consideration of all positions by the legislature, guided by facts, reason, the values of democracy and the general welfare before decision making.

 Democracy

A system of government by and for the people. Literally means ‘rule by the people’. 

 Devolution

Governmental power is passed over from the central or national government to lower levels of government. Devolution involves transfer of political powers whereas decentralization usually refers to the transfer of administrative or fiscal powers.

 Directive principles

Principles and policies focusing on citizens’ welfare formulated as guidelines for the state such as those contained in Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution. Usually not justiciable i.e. unenforceable in court.

 Drafting

Expert task of putting constitutional ideas into precise legal language that those who will employ the constitution, including the courts, are able to interpret. Usually done by legal drafters.

 Election

The process of selecting a person of choice through voting.

 Election petition

Questions on the validity of an election which is presented to a court or tribunal.

 Electoral system

Rules and method of converting votes into seats in an elected body.

 Enact

To make or pass a law.

 Enacting Clause

The phrase preceding the provisions of a bill which identifies the legislative body responsible for its creation. Usually worded “Be it enacted by the National Assembly ...”

 Entrenched

Guaranteed in the constitution and difficult to change

 Exclusive power/legislative List

Powers reserved exclusively for the central or federal government. Items in the exclusive legislative list in the 2nd schedule to the Constitution are assigned to  the federal government; only the National Assembly can legislate on those items.

 Federation Account

Also called “Distributable Pool Account” from which allocations are made to the Federal, State and Local governments. It is made up of revenues collected by the government (excluding personal income tax/PAYE of armed forces and police personnel, foreign services personnel and FCT Abuja residents). Held in trust by the Federal Government on behalf of the three tiers of government for distribution in accordance with a formula prescribed by law.

 First-Past-the-Post system

Electoral system where a candidate who receives more votes than any other candidate gets elected irrespective of the vote share.

 Floor

Reference to the interior of a legislative chamber where plenary discussions take place.

 Franchise

The right to vote.

 Hansard

The official printed record of debates in the National Assembly. 

Hearing

A formal session of a Legislative Committee at which business is conducted or testimony is received or meeting at which witnesses from the general public are invited to participate.

 Judicial review

Powers of the courts to decide upon the constitutionality of a legislative or an executive act and invalidate that act if it is determined to be contrary to constitutional provisions or principles.

 Journal

An official record maintained by each House reporting essential items of daily business, indicating specific action and recording votes. 

Justiciable

Something which can be taken to court for a legal ruling. 

Legality

Lawful; in accordance with the law.

 Legitimacy

State or quality of being accepted as legitimate, lawful or right. It also refers to validity by virtue of political or public acceptance.

 Legislative Day

A day in which a legislative session takes place.

 Legislative Oversight

The power or responsibility of the legislature to review operations of executive agencies, ministries or departments.

 Majority

Either ‘more than half’ (absolute majority) or ‘the largest number’ (simple majority).

 Majority Leader

Spokesman and floor leader for the majority party in each house.

 Minority Leader

Spokesman and floor leader for the minority party in each house.

 Ombudsman

A public official or body that is appointed by the legislature to investigate complaints by individuals about the activities of government agencies. E.g. this function is performed in the Senate and House of Representatives by their Committees on Public Petitions.

 Petition

A letter, often signed by many people, making a specific request to the Legislature.

 Preamble

Introductory part of the constitution setting out its history, the values and aspirations of the people, and authority under which the constitution is made. Also described as the enacting clause of the constitution usually starting with the phrase “We the People...”

 Presiding Officer

Member of the legislature elected by fellow members to preside over its proceedings, regulate debate and interpret its rules impartially. The President of the Senate, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker are presiding officers.

 Principal Officers

Other elected members of the leadership of the National Assembly, including its presiding officers.

Promulgate

Put a law into effect by a formal proclamation.

 Proportional representation

A system of electing members of the legislature where the number of seats allocated to a particular party is determined by the percentage of votes won by that party.

 Quorum

The number of members of a House or Committee required by law or rule to be present before they can conduct official business.

 Quota

An assigned share of legislative seats assigned to a specific group of people (e.g. women, youths, persons with disability, ethnic minorities, religious groups etc.) to compensate for past injustices or exclusion.

 Reading

Refers to the various stages of the legislative process.

 Recess

A temporary halting of legislative business. 

Ratification

Making something valid by formally approving or confirming it: ‘a referendum may ratify a constitution’; ‘National Assembly may ratify a treaty’.

 Repeal

A legislative act to remove a provision from a law or an enactment from a body of laws.

 Referendum

A popular vote by the electorate to decide a political issue, not to choose representatives.

 Report

A written or verbal statement by a Committee to the National Assembly giving the results of an inquiry or recommendations on a bill.

 Resolution

Expression of the will, wish, or direction of the Legislature. A resolution generally does not have the effect of law.

 Rules

Rules adopted by each chamber to govern its operation and procedure. May be also called Standing Orders.

 Sergeant-at-Arms

The head of security in the legislature. Keeps order during legislative proceedings and attends to the Senate President or Speaker when he/she enters or leaves the Assembly Chamber.

 Session

One of the time periods into which a Legislature is divided and convened, usually consisting of a number of separate sittings. The constitution mandates sittings of not less than one hundred and eighty-one days in a year. The National Assembly’s annual sessions typically commence in June.

 Schedule

Appendix to a statute or constitution

 Sitting

A meeting of the Legislative Assembly within a session. 

Standing Committee

Permanent committees established under the standing rules of each chamber and specialising in the consideration of particular subject areas. 

Sovereignty

Absolute power of a country to control or govern its territory and population.

 Sponsor

A member who authors or agrees to introduce a bill or measure.

 Tier of government

Level of government.

 Unicameral

Legislature composed of one chamber.

 Veto

An official action by the President that nullifies legislative action in the passing of a bill or appropriation.

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