March 29, (THEWILL) – The National Assembly has transmitted the 5th alteration of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Bills to the 36 State Houses of Assembly for their approval.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde Amos, said the transmission of 44 amendment Bills of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fifth Alteration), 2022 to their partners in legislative practice and progress, which are the State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria, was in compliance with Section 9(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended).
“Firstly, we must see ourselves as bonafide and privileged representatives of the Nigerian people, because what we are doing today is one of the sacred and cardinal obligations of responsible and responsive servants of the people.
“The journey towards the Fifth Alteration started at the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly that took the Constitution Amendment as one of its key legislative priorities among others.
“Given the importance of alterations to the constitution, the two chambers of the 9th Assembly at inception inaugurated committees on Constitution Amendment headed by the Deputy President of the Senate, Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase respectively.
“The 9th Assembly has since delivered on this key legislative priority and has equally passed 44 Bills for the alteration of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN).
“Thankfully, the National Assembly has at every point in this journey included the Nigerian people through Hearings at the Six Geopolitical Zones as well as two National Public Hearings. This was with the view to harnessing the views, aspirations, wishes, interest and wants of citizens”, Amos said.
Amos noted that the Bills deal with major issues on developments, governance, politics and the economy, adding that they touch on issues, which include the abrogation of the State Joint Local Government Account, Financial Independence of State Legislatures and Judiciary in compliance with legislative autonomy, timelines for civil and criminal cases, mandatory state of the nation address by the President and Governors respectively, security of Local Government Executives tenure for three (3) years, mandatory Local Government Elections, amongst others.
“With the transmission of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fifth Alteration) Bills, 2022, it must be made clear and unambiguous that the 9th National Assembly has started the process of restructuring within the polity.
“The fact of the matter is that powers are being shared enthusiastically and drastically in the sense that the states are now empowered to generate and distribute electricity, construct and own railways, airports and correctional centres. We are now going to have Financial Autonomy at the State Judiciary and the local layer of government.
“The Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation, even at the various State levels will now be separated, ditto for the Office of the Accountant General Office.
“You will agree with me that a strengthened Local Government will attract fundamental changes with more professionals as we have created a nursery school where people will learn the ropes of politics and governance, where they will move up the ladder of politics so that there will be no political neophytes. That will be a way of urgently introducing rapid development and democratic progress at the third tier of government.
“All stakeholders and drivers of pragmatic implementation of these alterations are hereby urged to put on the garment of fervent patriotism to make things work accordingly.
“The need for the Press at this historic junction in our country simply cannot be overemphasised. The Press must be seen to play its Constitutional role, to vociferate these new issues in our Constitutional Amendments, by constantly making all stakeholders in this regard to wake up and sit up in the best interest of practical implementation.
“The civil society organisations are equally challenged to raise their much needed voice stridently in this direction, in order for all the issues captured in this Constitutional Alterations to see the light of the day, for the ultimate purpose of achieving results in all tiers of government, so that the pragmatic impacts will be felt by the generality of the Nigerian electorates.
“So, as the Chief administrators of Nigerian Legislatures, we must provide directional leadership and strategic focus. We must sharpen our management and leadership skills well enough to be able to guide and advise Legislators especially on the social or economic implications of bills under consideration,” Amos said while charging the Clerks to ensure that Nigeria and Nigerians get a new working Constitution.
“We must hold the unfolding responsibilities and opportunities with both hands. We are at the threshold of history as I transmit these amendments to you today. I transmit to you the hope, yearnings, aspirations and desires of the Nigerian people, who are truly the fundamental and ultimate custodians of representative democracy in our clime”, Amos added.
Chairperson, Forum of Clerks, who is also the Clerk, Delta State House of Assembly, Lyna Aliya Ocholor, said they will give the Bills the urgent attention they require.
According to her, the State Assembly will give the deserved attention to the Bills in order to send it back to the National Assembly.
“The fifth alteration is novel. And we will work hard to ensure that the states give concurrent approval that it deserves”, Lyna said while receiving the document.