Constitution Amendment: States To Get More Powers, DSP Ekweremadu

Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution has said the ongoing amendment of the law will reposition local government administration in Nigeria, devolve more powers to the states and reform the judicial system.

The deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who is the Chairman of the SCRC, said this at the end of the committee’s meeting at the National Assembly, on Wednesday. Ekweremadu said the amendment would be concluded soon to further reform the nation’s electoral system.

He also said the experts working with the House of Representatives and the Senate committees on the constitution amendment project had already harmonized their positions ahead of a joint retreat to vote and adopt the proposals.

After the adoption, he stressed that it would be presented to both chambers of the National Assembly for approval and subsequently to the state Houses of Assembly for ratification. Ekweremadu stated that there were plans to amend the Second Schedule, Part I of the Constitution, to restructure the Legislative Lists and ensure a proper devolution of powers to allow states the needed leverage to take initiatives for competitive development.

He also said the committees were proposing ‘to strengthen governance at the grass roots by amending Section 7 of the constitution to properly situate the local governments as a third tier of the government of the federation with elaborate provisions for their funding, tenure, and elections; and to clearly delineate their powers and responsibilities.”

The Deputy Senate President explained that this would include the abolition of joint state-local government account and increase autonomy to ensure effective service delivery. He also said the amendment would insulate local government councils from ‘undue and unhealthy’ interferences from state governments.

Among the key electoral reforms, according to Ekweremadu, is the proposed amendment to Section 285 of the constitution to set a timeline for the conclusion of pre-election matters. He explained that such a timeline was successfully set for election petitions during the 6th Senate.

 Ekweremadu said, “The idea is for every pre-election matter to be filed not later than 14 days from the date of the occurrence of the event, decision or action being complained of in the suit.” With Chuddy.