Months after the leadership of the National Assembly, led by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, accused governors of sabotaging moves to grant local government autonomy through a constitution amendment, it yesterday, said Houses of Assembly have failed to support the move.
This is as the federal lawmakers said 35 constitution amendment bills have been passed by state assemblies.
Among the proposed legislations not approved by the state assemblies are bills seeking financial and legislative autonomy for local governments.
Last year, Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee, Omo-Agege, said governors and speakers were demanding the creation of state police, among others, before they would vote on the 44 bills sent to them for assent. Before the bills were signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, at least 24 Houses of Assembly must concur.
Omo-Agege had said: “Six months after the transmission of these Bills to State Assemblies, it is most disheartening to inform you that only 11 State Houses of Assembly have demonstrated their independence and loyalty to the Constitution regarding the 44 bills.
“Twenty five State Houses of Assembly have yet to consider and vote on these bills. So far, only Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Lagos, Ogun and Osun States have successfully considered, voted on, and forwarded their resolutions on the 44 bills to the National Assembly.
“More worrisome is that while we are still expecting the receipt of the resolutions of the remaining Houses of Assembly, we received a letter from the Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies informing the National Assembly that the remaining states will not act on the 44 Bills unless the National Assembly passes four new Bills they have proposed in the letter.”
Out of the 44 bills forwarded to the 36 State Houses of Assembly early last year, 35 were approved by over 24 Assemblies, thereby meeting the constitutional requirements of 2/3 but nine bills didn’t scale through. According to Omo-Agege, Gombe, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara, are yet to forward their resolutions on the bills in fulfillment of their constitutionally imposed legislative obligation to the Constitution amendment process.
In a motion sponsored on the floor by Omo-Agege and others, the Senate directed the Clerk to the National Assembly to forward the 35 bills that met the constitutional requirements to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
Explaining, Opeyemi Bamidele who read the motion, said: “Section 9(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended provides that an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution can be passed only when it is supported by 2/3 majority of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and approved by 24 State Houses of Assembly.
“About 68 bills seeking to alter provisions of the Constitution were presented at the floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday 23 February, 2022; for passage. The Senate and the House of Representatives approved 44 without difference and they were transmitted to the State Houses of Assembly for their resolution.
“Twenty-seven State Houses of Assembly: Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross-River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Rivers, Yobe, have forwarded their resolution on the bills,” Bamidele said.
According to the Senate, 35 Constitution alteration bills have satisfied the provisions of Section 9(2) of the Constitution, for passage into law, having been approved by not less than 24 state Houses of Assembly.