The Senate Constitution Review Committee has barred President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo and all serving governors from contesting election for the six-year single term being proposed in the constitution under amendment.
The restriction contained in clause 12 of the committee’s report, seeking to alter section 137 of the constitution reads: “A person holding the office of the president or vice president immediately before the coming into force of the alterations of section 135 and 136 of this constitution shall not be eligible to contest for a single term of six years.”
Like the president, incumbent state governors, including those serving their first term are prohibited from seeking election for a six-year single term under the new law, according to clause 8 which seeks to alter section 180 of the constitution.
The National Assembly had set a July 2013 deadline to conclude work on the amendments to the constitution, so that the provisions will take effect ahead of the 2015 elections.
If the target is achieved therefore, the president and all the state governors will be bound by the new constitution.
Also, the committee bars President Jonathan from signing the amended constitution into law as it happened in 2010 when minor amendments were made to it.
With the new proposals the National Assembly will also not require simple majority to override the president’s veto on bills. Once a bill stays with the president for 30 days without him assenting to it or returning it to the legislature, it will automatically be considered to have been signed.
Clause 11 amending Section 136 disqualifies the vice president from contesting for the office of the president if he was sworn in after the death or impeachment of the president.
“Where the vice president-elect or vice president succeeds the president-elect or the president in accordance with subsection 1 of this section, he shall not be eligible to contest for the office of the president in any subsequent election.”
When the new provisions are passed, all former presiding officers of the National Assembly including former senate presidents and their deputies, former speakers of the House of Representatives and their deputies shall be entitled to pension for life at a rate equivalent to the annual salary of the incumbent officers,” according to clause 7 amending section 84.
Section 121 also granted financial autonomy to the 36 states Houses of Assembly, state Auditors- General, states’ judiciary and states’ Attorneys-General. The section provides that they derive their funding from the consolidated revenue fund of the state directly.
The proposed amendment also separates the office of the Attorney General of the Federation from that of the Minister of Justice, the same way it separates the office of the state Attorney- General and Commissioner of Justice.
The Ike Ekweremadu-led committee also proposed an amendment to Section 162 of the constitution abolishing the controversial Joint State/Local Government Account and stipulate that the monthly revenue allocation to the third tier of government be paid to them directly.
It also denies allocations to local governments that have no elected councils.
In Section 299, the FCT is granted a mayoral status, thereby scrapping the position of the Minister of the Federal Capital.
“The National Assembly shall make law to provide for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of the office of Mayor of the Federal Capital Territory,” the section states.
Section 300 scraps the FCT minister’s position and replaced it with that of a mayor.
The panel also recommended for the removal of the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC), Land Use Act and the National Securities Agencies Act from the constitution.
The committee further called for devolution of more powers to the 36 states by removing arbitration, aviation, environment, health care, land and agriculture, prisons, public complaints, railways, road safety, stamp duties, wages and youth matters from the exclusive legislative list putting it under the concurrent legislative list to allow states to establish and maintain prisons, railways, airports among others.
The committee however rejected the rotation of the office of the president between the north and south, saying it will disunite the country.
Similarly, the panel rejected proposal for the creation of state police as well as that for Nigerians in Diaspora to vote during elections. It also rejected the clamour for increase in the derivation component of oil and gas sales by oil producing states of the Niger Delta from the present 13 percent to 20 percent.
The request for the conferment of “special status” on Lagos did not also scale through even though the legislators said they appreciated the challenges of Lagos.
On request by indigenes of the FCT to be given a ministerial slot the same with the 36 states of the federation, the senators opined that as desirable as it may be, “the provisions granting mayoral status for the FCT will go a long way in ensuring equitability and is sufficient to ensure efficient administration of the federal capital.”
Ekweremadu who took time to brief his colleagues on how the committee arrived at the decision on each of the clauses, however noted that on the 99 requests for states creation received, only 17 “attempted meeting the requirements” as stipulated in Section 8 (1) of the 1999 Constitution but they too failed.
Senate President David Mark said the upper legislative chamber will commence clause by clause consideration on June 25 when they resume from their mid-term recess. He called in all senators to consult widely with their constituents during the recess.