The Senate has commenced debate on the review of some major parts in the 1999 Constitution.
This followed the presentation of the report of the Senate committee on the review of the 1999 constitution, presented by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekwerenmadu, during the plenary session on Tuesday.
Key highlights of the amendment include the reduction of age for eligibility to contest the presidential elections from 40 to 35 years. Also, Nigerians from the age of 25 years may also be allowed to seek election into the state assemblies and the House of Representatives, down from the present 30 years.
The rationale behind this amendment is that those who are old enough to vote should be qualified to be voted for.
According to the report, any person who was sworn in as President or Governor to complete the term of the elected President or Governor will be barred from being elected to the same office for more than a single term.
The amendments also provide for independent candidacy.
Also, local governments are to granted financial autonomy as the new amendment seeks to abolish Joint State/Local Government account giving room for funds and allocation from the federal account to go directly to each local government.
In his contribution, Senator Dino Melaye said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should conduct local government elections, adding that he was happy that former Governors in the Senate were in support of Local Government autonomy.
The report recommends that 35 percent of persons appointed as Ministers or commissioners by the President or state Governors shall be women.
It is proposed that the President or Governor must, within 30 days of taking the oath of office, swear in his Ministers or Commissioners. And in sending the list of Ministers to the Senate for confirmation, portfolio of each nominee is to be attached therein.
The proposed amendment seeks to make it compulsory for the President to deliver the State of the Nation address before a joint session of the National Assembly on the first legislative day in the month of May every year.
To stop legal disputes arising from elections to drag on for too long, the amendment states that every pre-election matter shall be filed in court not later than 14 days from the date of occurrence of event, with an additional provision that an appeal from a decision of the court on pre-election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of filing the appeal
The lawmakers also proposed an expansion in the Council of State to include all former Senate Presidents and Speakers of the House of Representatives that are not impeached. The rationale behind this proposal, according to the lawmakers, is to bring about fair representation by the three arms of government in the Council.
The proposed amendment seeks to separate the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from the office of the Minister of Justice.
With the new amendments, Minister of FCT is to be appointed from within the FCT.
Some key items were moved from Exclusive List to Concurrent List in the proposed amendment.
The new amendment is also seeking to create National Assembly and state houses of assembly service commissions. State legislators are also to get financial autonomy.
Lawmakers are already making contributions and suggestions, while others are pleading for time to confer with their constituents before voting on the amendments. (News Express)