ANALYSIS: Constitutional Amendment: Nine key areas Senate, House of Reps disagree

Nigerian Senate
Nigerian Senate

Members of the House of Representatives disagreed with their Senate counterparts on nine issues when they picked up key elements of the constitution for amendments Thursday.

The Senate held a similar exercise on Wednesday when about 97 senators took decisions to amend up to 33 laws in the Constitution.

Those amendments were picked up by House members for consideration on Thursday.

Both chambers are forging ahead with the amendments even though Nigerians from different ethnic, political and religious affiliations continue to argue that the Constitution itself should be discarded and a fundamentally different one be promulgated in its stead.

Procedurally, the House shouldn’t have bothered voting on the amendment bills that had already failed in the Senate yesterday, but Speaker Yakubu Dogara said the House decided to take its own votes on those issues “in order to put its position on the record.”

By most measures, an amendment to the Constitution is considered a Herculean task: The House and Senate will have to agree on every section of the Constitution listed for amendment.

Each of the amendments that both the House and Senate agreed to will then be forwarded to the 36 states for ratification. Two-thirds of the state Houses of Assembly (i.e.: 24 state assemblies) will have to agree on the amendments before being returned to Abuja where the Clerk of the National Assembly will then send them to the president for assent.

Any amendment that fails to muster two-thirds of Houses of Assembly automatically fails and will be dropped from the list of bills to be transmitted to the president.

For instance, a National Assembly amendment that granted autonomy to state Houses of Assembly ironically failed in 2010 because it didn’t garner two-thirds support when the Houses of Assembly considered it.

Going by Thursday’s development, only 24 amendment bills, out of the 33 considered, will now go to be forwarded to Houses of Assembly for at least two-thirds to ratify.

Here are the nine amendment bills that the House passed today but which Senate rejected yesterday or the Senate rejected yesterday but which House passed today: These nine will no longer be part of the amendments to be sent to the Houses of Assembly.

Thirty-five per cent affirmative action for women as ministers.

Fate: Passed by the House but was rejected by the Senate.

Appointment of Minister from the FCT

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Change of names of some LG councils

Fate: Passed by the Senate yesterday but was rejected by the House today.

Citizenship and Indigeneship

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Removal of law making power from Executive Arm (National Youth Service Corps).

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Removal of law making power from Executive Arm (National Security Agencies Act).

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Removal of law making power from Executive Arm (National Complaints Commission).

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Removal of law making power from Executive Arm (Land Use Act)

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.

Deletion of State Independent National Electoral Commission (SIEC) from the Constitution.

Fate: Passed by the Senate but rejected by the House.


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