By Solomon Ayado, Ahuraka Isah and Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja
The Senate yesterday rejected devolution of powers to states by voting against the altercation of the second schedule to part 1 and 2 of the constitution which seeks to move certain items to concurrent legislative list to give more legislative powers to states.
It also gave its nod to amendment of the constitution to guarantee autonomy of local government administration and strengthen the democratic existence, funding and tenure of councils.
The Lawmakers voted unanimously that it is inappropriate to alter the constitution to ensure that democratically elected local government councils participate in the process of state creation and boundary adjustment.
The lawmakers further rejected the 35 per cent affirmative action for women in federal appointments, even as it said it is not wrong to guarantee married women’s right to choose either her indigeneship by birth or by marriage for purposes of appointment or election.
The bill seeking to delete the land Use Act from the constitution so that it can be subject to regular process of amendment was also rejected by the senate.
The 8th Senate reached these decisions during plenary while exercising a voting process on the bills seeking to amend the 1999 constitution.
A total of 33 bills were presented during plenary but the Senate passed 29 and rejected four of them. The voting was conducted on two-third majority, using electronic voting system.
Although the bills rejected are very critical, the rejection was because they did not meet the majority vote. They are a bill for dissolution of powers seeking to give more legislative powers to states, state creation and boundary adjustment bill, deletion of land use act, citizenship and indigeneship for women bill and the 35 per cent affirmative action for women.
The alteration of the constitution as done by the Senate is still not consolidated till the various bills are voted for by state Houses of Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Senate has okayed the alteration of sections 82 and 122 to reduce the period within which the president or governor of a state may authorise withdrawal of monies from the consolidated revenue fund in absence of an appropriation act from 6 to 3 months.
It also okayed the composition of members of the council of state to include former Senate Presidents and Speakers of House of Representatives.
Also, the Bill for reduction of age qualification as contained in Sections 65,106,131and 177 of the 1999 constitution has been passed by the Senate to reduce the age for the offices of the president,
governor and membership of the Senate, House of Representatives and the state Houses of Assembly.
By this, the age qualification for president, Senate and House of Representatives is 35 years, while age qualification for state elective positions is 30 years.
On timeframe for submitting the names of ministerial or commissioner nominees, the lawmakers agreed that submission of ministerial and commissionership nominations, names must go with assigned portfolio, and shall only be done by the president or governor within 30 days from assumption of office.
Sections 65,106,131 and 177 of the constitution got the approval of the Senate for altercation to allow for independent candidacy in all elections.
Speaking after the passage of the bills, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the legislative exercise is a promise kept which has shown the commitment of the 8th Senate to the fight against corruption.
Meanwhile, national chairman of National Democratic Party (NDP), Prince Chudi Chukwuani, has commended the Senate for rejecting the devolution of powers to states.
He said, “Restructuring is dead and is good for Nigeria’s unity. My party does not support restructuring in any form or manner and instead we support good governance.
The Senate has done well for the continued unity of Nigeria.”