Constitution Review: Rivers Assembly opposes LG autonomy

March 6th, 2018
From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The Rivers State House of Assembly has rejected Alteration Number 5, of the 1999 Constitution, which seeks to abrogate the Local Government Joint Account and permit local government councils to operate separate accounts.
This is as the House approved the fourth Alteration Number 24 of the Constitution, which outlines the process for the amendment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where the President withholds his assent.
The State Assembly at its 132 Legislative session, yesterday, voted on 15 alterations of the Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill 2017, transmitted to it by the National Assembly.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Ikuinyi Owaji-Ibani, presided over the Assembly.
The House also approved Fourth Alteration Number 27 which provides for the reduction of age for qualification to contest the position of President, Governor, National and State Assembly Seats in order to accommodate youths in the electoral process. 
The Assembly further voted to approve Alteration Number 8, which permits immunity for legislators during sitting and to strengthen the legislative process.
Also, the lawmakers approved Alteration Number 28, which specifies the period within which the President or State Governor must present an appropriation bill to the legislature for consideration. 
However, the House voted to approve Alteration Number 4, which confers financial autonomy on State Assemblies and Alteration Number 2, which reduces the period that the President or State Governor can spend money before the passage of the next budget from six months to three months.
The House further rejected Alteration Number 9, which seeks to permit the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) sufficient time to conduct by-elections and de-register political parties. 
It also rejected Alteration Number 14, which seeks to provide for independent candidates in the course of elections. 
In his remarks after the House voted on the 15 alterations of the Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill 2017, Speaker of the State of Assembly, Ibani, urged the National Assembly to revisit the issue of devolution of power, noting that too much powers are concentrated at the National Assembly. 
He explained that the over concentration of powers at the Federal level is making the country to drift to a unitary system.
Ibani said that by the voting, the Rivers State House of Assembly has contributed to the process of deepening the nation’s democracy. 
He directed the clerk of the Assembly to immediately transmit the resolution of the House to the National Assembly for necessary action.
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