Reps Tackle State House and Governors Over Delay in Constitution Amendment

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CEM REPORT, LEGISLATURE | The House of Representatives has expressed displeasure over the blind eye of state House of Assemblies to pass a resolution on 44 bills transmitted to them since 29th March 2022.

The Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review frowned at the request of state assemblies for the federal assembly to make resolutions on bills sent to it before it acts on the 44 bills.

The co-chair man of the Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review Senator Ovie Omo-Agege noted that only 11 state houses of assembly have demonstrated action on the bill while 25 state houses of assembly have yet to consider and vote on these bills.

He stated this during a press conference held at the instance of the leadership of the senate and house of representatives committees on constitution review, on the progress of the 44 Constitution amendment bills transmitted to the State Houses of Assembly yesterday.

“Now, let us give you a sense of where we are with the bills as of today. 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. 25 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.

“The bills they propose seek to amend the constitution to establish state police; establish state judicial council; Streamline the procedure for removing presiding officers of state houses of assembly, and institutionalize legislative bureaucracy in the constitution.”

Omo-Agege accused state governors of undue interference with legislative processes, nothing that the affected State Assemblies are politically captured by some state governors.

“It is, therefore, disheartening that some house of assembly, through the conference of speakers, would give the national assembly conditions before fulfilling their constitutional obligations.

“Although the conference of speakers did not allude to it in their letter, we are aware of the undue interference with legislative processes and the political capture of some state houses of assembly by some state governors. No doubt, some governors have worked tirelessly to turn the conference of speakers and some assemblies into political puppets, thereby undermining and delegitimizing the legislative institution at the state level. This interference has been ramped up, especially in opposition to the bills granting financial and administrative autonomy to local governments.

“An independent state legislature is essential to the well-being of Nigeria’s constitutional democracy. That is why the ongoing attempt by some governors, with the support of some speakers and allies in the state houses of assembly, to eliminate that independence should alarm all Nigerians.”

He maintained that while constitutional amendment bills require the approval of two-thirds (24) of the 36 states’ houses of assembly before they can be presented for the President’s assent, the statehouse of assembly remains independent and should be citizen conscious before any.

“It remains true that each state house of assembly is independent of the other. However, constitutional amendment bills require the approval of two-thirds (24) of the 36 states’ houses of assembly before they can be presented for the President’s assent. Therefore, how a state assembly decides on each of the bills is its prerogative. But, there must be a decision for citizens to know where each state house of assembly stands on the issues the bills seek to address.”

To this end, he urged Nigerian citizens, civil society organizations, interest and professional groups, and institutions to prevail on the conference of speakers to withdraw their threat to truncate the constitution amendment process.

“Instead, we should all speak up to defend our constitution and democracy. Suppose we ignore this brazen attempt by some governors to truncate a constitutional process. In that case, we will ultimately be enablers of the undermining of a critical bulwark of our democracy, which we should not be.

“While we use this medium to applaud all state houses of assembly that have successfully considered and approved the Constitution Alteration Bills, we also urge the remaining 25 state houses of assembly to keep faith with Nigerians and the constitution they swore to uphold. May we all honour our pledge to Nigerians to build and reform by listening to the people.”

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