Governors, State Assemblies Disagree on LG Autonomy, Halt Constitutional Amendment
The failure of Nigeria’s 36 state governors to reach a consensus with the leadership of the state houses of assembly has led to the suspension of the constitutional amendment process.
Earlier in the year, the National Assembly voted on about 15 major amendments to the provisions of the 1999 Nigerian constitution and dispatched the amendment proposals to the 36 state houses of assembly for ratification as required by the law.
Amending Nigeria’s constitution requires the concurrence of two-thirds majority of the National Assembly and the 36 state houses of assembly on the proposed amendments. 11 of the 36 state assemblies have reportedly voted in support of the proposed amendments but the governors, on Thursday, directed all speakers of the 36 assemblies to suspend the constitution review process until a consensus is reached on pending issues.
An 18-man panel comprising governors and speakers has also been raised to iron out the issues. Governors in the committee include Rauf Aregbesola (Osun); Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna); Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Dave Umahi (Ebonyi); Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara); Ben Ayade (Cross River) andHassan Dankwabo (Gombe).
Speakers from Oyo, Niger, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi and Benue were also selected as members of the committee.
The committee is expected to debate and harmonise the positions of both sides on areas of disagreement which are: Autonomy for Local Government Councils; Abrogation of State Joint Local Government Accounts (JAAC); Financial autonomy for Houses of Assembly; and Critical amendment to facilitate fast dispensation of cases at the Supreme Court and other courts; election petition, front loading of briefs on jurisdiction etc.
The governors reportedly pushed for the suspension of deliberations at the state assemblies to avoid being caught unawares. The Nation reports that a source close to the governors said:
“Following fears that if the State Houses of Assembly might use the two-thirds tyranny to uphold the four proposed amendments, the governors have directed the Speakers to halt further consideration of the amendments to 1999 Constitution till the Joint Committee of the two parties complete its assignment in January 2018.”
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