Ekweremadu briefs governors’ forum on Constitution Amendment progress

Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, on Wednesday night, briefed the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), on the ongoing constitution amendment exercise in the National Assembly.

A statement by Ekweremadu’s Media Adviser, Uche Anichukwu confirmed on Thursday that the Deputy Senate President met with the Governors’ Forum at the Presidential Villa, Abuja Wednesday night.

The statement said that Ekweremadu at the meeting explained to the Governors that of the 33 bills slated for amendments, 21 were passed by the Senate and House of Representatives, while 12 failed.

He told the Governors that efforts were on to build consensus around some of the failed bills, especially the bill on the devolution of powers, which is meant to unbundle and make the Federal Government more efficient.

The statement quoted Ekweremadu as having told the Governors that the amendments targeted at financial autonomy of the States and Local Governments only seeks to alter Section 162 of the Constitution to abrogate the State Joint Local Government Accounts and create the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State from which all allocations due to the Local Government Councils and the State Assemblies shall be directly paid from the Federation Account.

He said the proposed amendments would guarantee the democratic existence, funding, and tenure of local government councils.

According to the statement, Ekweremadu also stated that financial autonomy for Local Governments would not return primary education to the era of unpaid salaries adding that although primary education remained the constitutional responsibilities of the Local Governments, provisions have been made to deduct from the source the monthly financial obligations of the Local Governments from the Federation Account.

The statement also quoted Ekweremadu as saying that by seeking to alter Section 134 and 179 of the Constitution, the Constitution would enable the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), and sufficient time to conduct bye-elections; while section 225 to empower it to de-register political parties.

The statement further quotes the Deputy Senate President as saying: “INEC’s power to deregister parties will apply strictly to non-fulfilment of certain conditions such as breach of registration requirements and failure to secure/win either a Presidential, Governorship, Local Government chairmanship or a seat in the National or State Assembly or a Councillorship seat.

“Bill No. 10, seeks to alter sections 58, 59 and 100 only seek to resolve the usual situation where the President or Governor neglects to signify his/her assent to or veto of a bill from the legislature.

“So, the President or Governor will now have 30 days to signify his/her assent/veto rather than keep everyone in endless suspense, while passed bills gather dust in the shelf. In the United States, the Constitution provides for only two weeks. So, the intent is to enable timely passage of laws for good governance.”

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