Sometimes in July 2017 the Nigerian Senate voted to amend some salient provisions of the country’s Constitution.
This concern stemmed out of the obvious contradictions that our constitution has increasingly become unworkable in recent times.
It is therefore believed that an urgent amendment is required as part of the restructuring plan of the country.
The the National Assembly broke this perceived provisions of the constitution that requires amendment into separate bills and called to vote on same. The National Assembly voted on financial autonomy on local government areas, independent candidacy, restriction of executive offices to one term, affirmative action for women, amongst others. Some of these items passed while many failed.
The misery of this exercise happened when the National Assembly voted against devolution of power, the very indices that is believed to turn the country around. We cried out at this point asking that the chambers ought not to have voted against this very important issue and if truly the House Members represent us, isn’t our input required in issues like this?
Out of the 33 bills presented for vote then devolution of powers remains the most significant because it underscores the defining objectives of true federalism. it entails devolving powers to the component state as against the centre and allowing the states to function independent of the Centre but contribute therein.
Today, as we celebrate the president‘s assent to some of this bills that passed through we should be reminded that the 8th Assembly failed grossly in her responsibilities in this exercise and this is to say the least most unfortunate.
Now, out of the 24 Bills that passed from the 33 presented at the National Assembly last year July President Muhammadu Buhari, has assented to Four which are now hereby referred to as Acts of Parliament amending the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
The said Acts are as followed
1. CONSTITUTION (4th ALTERATION) ACT, No. 4 Section 121(3) is amended by providing for direct funding of the Houses of Assembly of the states’ directly from the Consolidated Revenue fund of the state.
And also, the funding of the Judiciary in the states directly from the Consolidated Revenue fund of each state by paying directly to the head of the courts concerned.
This formally grants financial autonomy to the Legislature and the Judiciary in all the states of the Federation.
2. CONSTITUTION (4th ALTERATION) ACT, No. 9
This Act amends 134, 179 and 225 of the Constitution. This, in Section 134 (4) and (5) extends the time from seven days to twenty within which the independent National Electoral Commission shall conduct election between the two leading candidates in a Presidential election where there is no outright winner in the first ballot.
And ditto Sections 179(4) and (5) in respect of Gubernatorial election, time is also extended from 7 to 21 days within which INEC shall conduct run-off election between the two leading gubernatorial candidates.
Section 225 is amended by inserting a new Section 225A to stipulate the conditions and process under which INEC may de-register political parties.
3. CONSTITUTION (4th ALTERATION) ACT, No. 16
This alters the provisions of the Constitution to disqualify a person who was sworn in as President or Governor to complete the term of an elected President or Governor from being elected to the same office for more than one term.
4. CONSTITUTION (4th ALTERATION) ACT, No. 21
This Alteration amends Section 285 of the Constitution authorizing the court or tribunal to suspend Ruling on preliminary objection or interlocutory issue relating to jurisdiction and deliver same at the stage of final judgment.
It inserts six NEW sub-sections, that is (9) – (14)
(9) “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, every pre-election matter shall be filed not later than 14 days from the date of the occurrence of the event, decision or action complained of in the suit.
(10) A Court in every pre-election matter shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of filing of the suit.
(11) An appeal from a decision in a pre-election matter shall be filed within 14 days from the date of delivery of the judgment appealed against.
(12) An appeal from a decision of a Court in a pre-election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of filing of the appeal.
(13) An election tribunal or court shall not declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all stages of the election.
(13) Definition of ‘pre-election matter.’
These amendments brings to five, the number of Acts, that is amending the Constitution under President Muhammadu Buhari, the first being the”Not-Too-Young-To- Run” Act, 2018.
With the Assent, the Constitution stands amended to the extent stated in these Acts.