Senate Approves Financial Autonomy For State Assemblies

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The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved the inclusion of former
presidents of the Senate and former speakers of the House of
Representatives as members of the Council of State.

The decision of the Senate followed an electronic voting on the report of the
committee on Constitution review which sought to alter certain sections of
the 1999 Constitution.

According to the decision of the Senate, the council of state which usually
comprises serving and pasts presidents and heads of state as well as the
serving president and speakers of the legislature will now include past
presidents and speakers.

All 95 Senators who were present voted in favour of the bill.
However, only past leaders of each of the chambers that were not
impeached during their tenure are eligible to become members of the
council.

The Senate also approved the alteration bill seeking to reduce from six
months to three months, the period of time within which a president can
authorise withdrawal from the confederation account before the passage of
the budget of a particular year.

The Senate for the second time also approved financial autonomy for State
Houses of Assembly to get their funding directly from the federation
accounts rather than rely on the state government to be funded.

During the last Constitution review, the National Assembly approved
financial autonomy for the states, however in a turn of events, the State
Assemblies themselves rejected the autonomy having voted no to financial
autonomy when the matter was brought before them as part of the process
of Constitution amendment.

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.

The Senate also approved the alteration that only democratically elected
local government councils will be recognised and funded from the
federation account.
Also approved was granting of immunity to lawmakers and indemnify them
from anything they say during the course of plenary or committee meeting.

The Senate also approved that the president and governors should have a
time frame after taking office within which to submit ministerial nominees
or list of commissioners in the case of the governors.
The Senate however rejected the alteration which would have mandated
states to ensure that 20 per cent of state commissioners appointed are
women.

The Senate also approved the change of name of the Nigerian Police Force
to the Nigeria Police to reflect their core mandate. 87 out of the 96
lawmakers present voted yes.
The inclusion of independent candidates to contest elections was also
okayed by the Senate as 62 senators voted in favour of the Independent
Candidature Bill.

Any person who functioned in capacity as acting president or governor can
only serve as an elected president or governor only once.
This implies that that once the individual is re-elected into the office which
he had served in acting capacity, he cannot contest an election into that
same office.

If this approvals sail through the entire process of the amendment, it means
that former President Goodluck Jonathan can no longer contest the
presidential election having acted as president and served a fresh 4 year
term afterwards.

The Senate also approved the separation of the Office of the Accountant
General of the Federation from the Office of the accountant general of the
Federal Government.

Following the rejection of the lawmakers, a woman who married out of her
state or Local government of origin will not have the choice to decide if to
contest an election as an indigene of her place of origin or her place of
marriage.

This will also apply in the case of political appointment as the woman
would not have the choice whether to be appointed as an indigene of her
place of origin or her place of marriage.

The Senate also approved for the establishment of the Investment and
Securities Tribunal.
The age qualification for persons contesting for elective offices was also
reduced approved for reduction by the Senate.

The upper legislative Council further approved that the president or governor
must submit the appropriation bill of the proceeding financial year not later
than 90 days before the expiration of the current financial year.
The Decree that established the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was
also deleted from the Constitution to allow for its amendment.

Other decrees which the senate approved for deletion for the Constitution
were the Public Complaint Commission and State Independent Electoral
Commissions.
However, the bill seeking to delete the Land Use Act from the Constitution
was rejected by the lawmakers as only 44 senators voted in support of the
bill.

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