Constitution amendment: Senate devolves more powers to states


TUNJI AZEEZ. THE  SUN.May 3, 2013

Constitution amendment: Senate devolves more powers to states

…LGs to get direct funding

The Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, led by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has proposed a non-renewable term of six years, with a proviso that the current President and Vice, and the current governors and their deputies, who may be entitled to a second term, will not be eligible to contest by 2015.

The particular proviso, barring incumbents from running in 2015, Daily Sun learnt, was to help bring about “political stability” in the country, and to show Nigerians that the Senate was prepared to make ”radical changes” in the constitution, that would help entrench the country’s nascent democracy.

Daily Sun gathered exclusively that other far-reaching recommendations made by the committee include devolution of powers, separating the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, from that of the minister of justice.

By the recommendation, the Senate devolved more powers to the states and made a provision to ensure local governments get their funding directly from the federation account, and not through any joint account, as it is being practised.

Also, for the first time, the Senate also recommended for a process, whereby a new constitution can evolve, other than through amendment processes. There is a proposal that any local government where there are no democratically elected council officials in place should not benefit from such release.

This is to put pressure on governors who are in the habit of constituting care taker committees, to conduct election as at when due.

Daily Sun further gathered, to strengthen the office of the Account –General of the Federation, it is recommended that the office should get its funding from the first-line charge. Other bodies to benefit from this new development, include the state Houses of Assembly and state’s electoral bodies.

The Senate committee has also proposed the inclusion of items, which were hitherto on the Exclusive list, on the Concurrent list, to give states powers to legislate on such items. Some of these items include: healthcare, arbitration, wages, environment, prison, railway and stamp duties among others.

Also, the committee has also proposed the removal of the Code of Conduct, NYSC and Land Use Acts, from the constitution, so to make their alteration flexible to meet the exigencies of time.

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