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House to resume constitution amendment Thursday

28 July 2017

"The amendments do raise the profile of the Senate and their passage at this particular moment, with the president outside the country, although not law without his approval, will be interpreted by some in the political establishment as a bid by the Senate leadership to dilute the executive's authority", said Antony Goldman of Nigeria-focused PM Consulting.

The organisation said even though it is aware of the long process of the constitutional amendment and that the Senate is not the final step, it is disheartening that as representatives of the people, the legislators are unable to correctly gauge the desires of the people and the nation.

Also passed was parliamentary immunity to lawmakers in the federal and state legislatures against prosecution over words spoken or written during debates or at committee assignments.

They also passed an amendment that would compel the President to attend a joint session of the National Assembly once a year to deliver a State of the Nation address.

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The upper legislative chamber also approved the abrogation of joint accounts for States and Local Government and provided for Local government to operate their special accounts called the Local Government Account.

Consequently, the bill seeks to alter sections 58, 59 and 100 of the 1999 Constitution and make it easy for the lawmakers to override the president in order to resolve the impasse where the President or Governor refuses to signify his/her assent to a bill from the National Assembly or withhold such assent. Forty eight voted against it, while 46 voted in favour.

Similarly, the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation and state Auditors General are to be on first line charges in the consolidated revenue funds of the federation and the states respectively.

From the separation of the offices of the Attorney Generals of the Federation and States, from those of the Minister and Commissioners of Justice, to the requirement that elected Executives submit Ministerial and Commissioners' Lists within a 30-day period after swearing-in, it is arguably the single biggest day of the Bukola Saraki-led Senate in its two years since 2015.

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Also passed was the bill on procedure for overriding presidential veto in constitutional adjustment.

The Bill seeking to set time lines for determination of election disputes also scaled through as Senators Voted 97 in support.

Bill 1: Members of the Council of States. The age limit for presidents and senators would be reduced from 40 to 35 years, State governors from 35 to 30 while for members of the House of Representatives from 30 to 25 years. This is to enable the lawmakers subject the Scheme to regular process of amendment.

Other decrees which the senate approved for deletion for the Constitution were the Public Complaint Commission and State Independent Electoral Commissions.

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House to resume constitution amendment Thursday