Constitution Amendment Battle Shifts to State Houses of Assembly

The battle to amend the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which is largely flawed has shifted to the state Houses of Assembly. Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) has disclosed that the National Assembly has transmitted 44 Constitution alteration bills to state Legislature for voting.

According to PLAC on its website, that was done on March 29, 2022. The 44 Constitution alteration bills transmitted were passed by both the both chambers of the bicameral National Assembly on March 1, 2022, out of a total of 68 bills to amend the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.

This is coming as Speakers of state Houses of Assembly gathered at the First Quarter General Meeting of the Conference of Speakers of state Legislatures in Nigeria the previous Saturday.

The meeting was held in Oyo State with the theme, The Imperative of on-going Alteration of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Welcoming his colleagues, Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, 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 then urged his colleagues to commence work on the proposed amendments in order to deliver on time.

However, 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.

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.

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

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