Snippet of the 68 proposed amendments to the Constitution to be voted for. at the National Assembly

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Snippet of the 68 proposed amendments to the Constitution to be voted for. at the National Assembly

All is set for the Senate and House of Representatives to vote on 68 proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution. Both chambers are expected to vote separately on the amendments, during plenary sessions.

The report of the constitution review, which contains the proposed amendments, was laid at both chambers last week by the ad hoc committees constituted to review the document.

Some of the key amendments on which the lawmakers will vote ranges from Local Government autonomy to Provision for Independent candidacy to Reserved legislative seats for women etc

68 individual bills – because lumping them together complicates matters. If members disagree on sections of an omnibus Bill, or if President declines assent, then the entire Bill has to be reworked. Individual Bills mean what is agreed on will not be held back by what is not.

One of the Bills seeks to break Local Governments free from the financial chokehold of States by abolishing the State Joint Local Government Account, and replacing it with a Local Government Allocation Account that will be directly controlled by LGAs.

Another Bill seeks to give constitutional backing to “VIRTUAL” court and tribunal proceedings. I’m aware @NigeriaGov launched a national “virtual court” program last December, at Kuje Correctional Center. This Bill will ‘constitutionalize’ the use of such virtual/digital tech.

There are also Bills to give Constitutional backing to Independent Candidacy and Diaspora Voting. Two much-talked about issues in recent years.

Currently, female foreigners married to Nigerian men (aka “Niger-wives”) are eligible to apply for Nigerian citizenship by Registration. But this does NOT apply to male foreigners married to Nigerian women. One of the Bills to be voted on seeks to change this, level that field.

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As in there’s currently NO path for Citizenship BY MARRIAGE for a male foreigner married to a Nigerian woman. Only the other way round. If this Bill is passed and assented to, that will change, and foreign husbands will now be eligible for Nigerian citizenship by Registration.

There’s also a Bill to split the Office of Attorney-General from Minister/Comm of Justice, at Federal & State levels. Like in the UK, where the Secretary of State (ie Minister) for Justice (who may not necessarily be a lawyer, I believe) is different from the Attorney-General.

There’s also a Bill to grant life pension to presiding officers of the National Assembly, ie Senate President and Speaker and their Deputies. Another Bill to grant “immunity” to these presiding officers, just like President, VP, Governors and Deputy Governors.

Credit: Tolu Ogunlesi

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