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25 States Decline Assent on Constitution Amendment Bill, Cite Reasons



The 25 states have threatened to take no action on the bills unless four more constitutional amendment bills are considered and passed by the National Assembly.

Only 11 of Nigeria’s 36 state legislatures have considered and voted on the 44 constitution amendment bills passed by the National Assembly earlier in the year.

The states whose houses of assembly have voted on the bills are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Lagos, Ogun and Osun states.

This comes about six months after the bills were passed and transmitted to the states for their legislative votes.

Twenty-five other states have failed to consider the bills.

The states have threatened to take no action on the bills unless four more constitutional amendment bills are considered and passed by the National Assembly.

The four are bills to:

*Establish State Police;

*Establish State Judicial Council;

*Streamline the procedure for removing Presiding Officers of State Houses of Assembly and,

*Institutionalise Legislative Bureaucracy in the Constitution.

These demands were contained in a letter from the Conference of Speakers to the National Assembly Joint Committee on Constitutional Review.

The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, made this known in a press conference on Tuesday.

The 44 bills were passed by the Senate and House of Representatives on 1 March and transmitted to the State Houses of Assembly.

Only the 44 bills were passed out of 68 considered by the lawmakers in the constitution amendment.

The voting process of the constitution amendment and how the lawmakers voted on each bill was reported by news correspondents.

Other correspondents also reported how the lawmakers rejected all the five gender bills that sought to promote more opportunities for women in political parties, governance and the society at large – triggering protests from over 200 women groups across the country.

The federal legislature also voted to deny citizenship to the foreign-born husbands of a Nigerian women and the ability to take indigeneship of their husbands’ states after five years of being together.

Governors, State Assemblies frustrating process

Addressing journalists, Mr Omo-Agege who chairs the National Assembly Joint Committee on Constitution Review, described the refusal of the state assemblies to vote on the bills as disheartening and worrisome.

While he said the National Assembly is not averse to acting on any proposed bill appropriately tabled before it, the lawmaker said it is legally inappropriate for the Conference of Speakers to use the four bills as a quid pro quo to act on the 44 bills.

He also accused some state governors of interfering in the affairs of State Houses of Assembly and turning some of its lawmakers to puppets for their selfish gains.

“It is clear that this letter is not in keeping with the obligation of the Constitution,” he said. “We are aware of the undue interference with legislative processes and the political capture of some State Houses of Assembly by some state governors.

“No doubt, some state governors have worked tirelessly to turn the Conference of Speakers and some State Assemblies into political puppets, thereby undermining and delegitimising the legislative institution at the state level. This interference has been ramped up, especially in opposition to the Bills granting financial and administrative autonomy to Local Governments,” Mr Omo-Agege said.

He said the National Assembly will ignore the brazen attempt by some governors to truncate a constitutional process. He called on civic and professional groups to prevail on the Conference of Speakers to withdraw their threat to truncate the constitution amendment process.

It is not clear if the Senate will reconsider the proposed bills.

However, Constitution amendment bills require the approval of two thirds (24) of the 36 State Houses of Assembly before they can be presented for the president’s assent.

The president of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, and representatives of other labour unions like Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, called on state governors to stop interfering in the legislative activities of state assemblies.

They also admonished the state assemblies to approve local government autonomy.

A total of N1 billion was earmarked for the constitution review process and when asked how much has been expended so far, Mr Omo-Agege said he had no idea.




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