Constitutional Review: 34 State Assemblies back power devolution

*NASS may reconsider rejection of clause
*Lagos, Rivers missing in report
By Ignatius Okorocha
Except Lagos and Rivers States, the remaining 34 states of the federation have endorsed the devolution of more powers from the Federal Government to the states.
The states through their Houses of Assembly endorsed the transfer of more powers to the states, insisting it will enable the country develop faster. They added that it was the popular demands of Nigerians.
They frowned at the National Assembly for rejecting the devolution of powers clause in its amendment of the 1999 Constitution 9as amended).
The Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly, Hon. Abdulmumuni Kamba, who presented the report of the state legislatures on Thursday to the National Assembly in Abuja, asked NASS to recant on its earlier rejection of devolution of powers/restructuring and reconsider the clause in the Bills for the amendment to the nationa��s constitution.
The Conference however rejected the inclusion of local government autonomy but adopted autonomy for the state Assemblies and 14 of the 29 Bills sent to it by the National Assembly.
Analysts are however of the conviction that their action is a plus for restructuring.
At a special meeting of the Speakers of the State Houses of Assembly with the leadership of National Assembly, Hon Kamba, who doubles as the Speaker of Kebbi State House of Assembly, said that the Conference wants the National Assembly to reconsider the inclusion of devolution of powers in the amendment to the Constitution since that is a popular demand of Nigerians.
He said: “While we believe that every proposed amendment forwarded by the National Assembly to the state Assemblies reflects the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians, the voting out of the Bill for the devolution of powers by the National Assembly which was part of the original work taken by this Assembly has been strongly condemned.
“As representatives of the people at the grassroots, therefore, Your Excellences by popular demand of our constituencies, they demand that the Bill on devolution of powers be reconsidered and form part of the next proposed amendment to the constitution,” he said.
He handed over the transmission of the adopted documents of the Bills considered by the state Assemblies to the Chairman of the National Assembly, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
The Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, congratulated the state lawmakers for adopting the independence of state legislatures among other Bills sent to them, adding that “this is a very remarkable departure from the stand of their predecessors in the 7th Assembly for the legislature at the state Assemblies to be independent.
a�?The belief of most of us at the National Assembly is that the bulk of dividends of democracy lies at the state levela�?.
He, however, expressed disappointment with the rejection of local government autonomy, noting that the courage they demonstrated in the adoption of autonomy to State House of Assemblies should have spurred them in adopting same for the councils.
In his remark, Saraki thanked the Speakers for transmitting their resolutions on the Bill for Constitutional Amendment and hinted that the National Assembly had set up a joint committee to revisit devolution of powers, state police and other bills dropped by both chambers which were considered crucial by the people for reconsideration.
“We have set up a joint committee made of representatives from Senate and the House to look at the areas that were initially rejected by the two houses and report back to the chambers for adoption and very soon, we will be sending that to you again.
“I am sure that you will consider them very quickly and transmit them back to us soon. We will look at the areas that you have rejected,” he said.
The report was however silent on the position of Lagos and Rivers Assemblies.

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