Senate votes against direct funding to LGs, 6-year tenure

Senate, voting on constitutional amendment proposal, at plenary on Tuesday finally threw out the controversial six-year single term for President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors.

Also, the Senators voted against direct funding to local governments from the Federation Account, which the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution headed by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, had recommened.

Out of 99 Senators who voted on this –Clause 15 on the Senate’s proposed amendment – 59 voted ‘yes’, while 38 voted ‘no’.

Senate President, David Mark, at the beginning of the sitting had said the Senate needed 73, which is the two-thirds of 109, for any proposal to scale through.

Clause 162 (5) of the proposed amendment reads: “Any amount standing to the credit of local government in the Federation Account shall be allocated and paid directly to the local governments for their benefits on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.

Sub-section (6) reads: “The amount standing to the credit of a local government without a democratically elected council shall be withheld until there is a democratically elected local government council in such local government.”

The six-year single term proposal for President and Governors was the high point of the 42-page recommendation in the constitution review report submitted to Senate on June 5 by the committee.

Majority of the Senators that spoke during the debate had been stoutly against the proposal.

The committee, on Section 135 sub-section (2) proposed that: “Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, the President shall vacate his office at the expiration of a period of six years commencing from the date when (a) in the case of a person elected as President under this Constitution, he took the oath of allegiance and the oath of office.”

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The Senate also voted ‘No’ to Section 137 (c) of the proposed amendment which stated that: “A person holding the office of the President or Vice President immediately before the coming into force of the alteration of Section 135 of this Constitution shall not be eligible to contest election for a single term of six years.”

Senators also rejected a recommendation that Section 29 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which provides that any citizen of Nigeria who wishes to renounce his or her citizenship must be 18 years, be deleted.

The Senate had earlier voted 75 ‘yes’ against 13 ‘no’ for the deletion of the Section 29 (b) as recommended by the committee, but had to rescind it following an objection of former Zamfara State Governor, Ahmed Sani Yerima, who represents Zamfara West, that the recommendation if allowed, runs against the provision of Islamic laws which have no age limit for Muslim girls.

Section 29 (1) of the 1999 constitution as amended provides that: “Any citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his Nigerian citizenship shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation.”

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Subsection (4) (a) of the section provides: “Full age means the age of eighteen years and above. (b) any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.”

The Senate also voted against direct funding for the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, but voted for direct funding of the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the National Human Rights Commission.

Senators also voted for direct funding for State Independent Electoral Commissions, state Houses of Assembly, Auditors-General of states, state judiciary and voted against direct funding for Attorneys-General of the states.

The Senate also voted against the separation of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

The Senators also rejected conferment of powers on the Attorney General to direct investigation in certain cases as provided by the 1999 Constitution.

They also voted against the separation of the office of the Attorney General of the state and Commissioner for Justice.

They equally rejected empowering the Attorney General of the state to direct investigations in certain cases.

The Senate also voted against the removal of the word ‘force’ from the Nigeria Police Force.

It also voted against the mayoral status for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Senate also declined to remove the National Youth Service Corps decree, the Public Complaints Commission Act, national security agencies and the Land Use Act from the Constitution.

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