Wednesday, 2 March 2022

How N’Assembly Voted On 1999 Constitution Amendment


The National Assembly on Tuesday granted financial and administrative autonomy to all the local governments across Nigeria as it sought to amend the 1999 constitution.

Lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly voted on 68 bills, accepting some while rejecting others.

They voted for independent candidacy in elections and separated the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation from that of the Minister of Justice.

However, lawmakers voted against pension for presiding officers of the National Assembly and rejected virtually all provisions designed to improve women inclusion in Nigerian politics and society.

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The amendment is one of the most important endeavours to be undertaken by the ninth assembly.

Previous assemblies have had a go at amending the constitution with varying levels of success.


‘No Diaspora Voting’


Some of the other bills passed on Tuesday include financial independence of State Houses of Assembly and State Judiciary, moving of airports from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list and allowing states to generate, transmit and distribute electricity in areas not covered by the national grid.

Others include a bill that sets a timeframe for the submission of names of ministerial and commissioner-nominees, another that sets a timeframe for the conduct of census and one that enshrines free and compulsory basic education as a fundamental human right.

Some of the bills which were thrown out by the lawmakers bordered on the termination of tenure on account of political party defection, diaspora voting, procedure for overriding the President’s veto for constitution alteration, virtual court hearing.

Also, immunity for presiding offers of the National Assembly and heads of judiciary was rejected.


Defeat for women bills


The lawmakers voted against a bill seeking to provide special seats for women in the National and State Houses of Assembly.

The bill was defeated in the Senate with 58 votes out of 91.

In the House of Representatives 208 out of 290 lawmakers voted against it.


Wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo was present on the floor of the House of Representatives for the vote.

In an interview after the vote, Mrs Osinbajo said the defeated bill was not the end of the agitation for women inclusion in Nigerian politics.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, described the vote as a show of shame.

Other bills focused on improving women participation in politics and society also failed.

A bill to provide affirmative action for women in political party administration did not scale through.

Another to provide ‘reserved quota for women’ was defeated.


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