OrderPaperToday– As the Senate Constitution Review committee commences work, it gives opportunity for stakeholders to make input in the process for removal and inclusion of new provisions into the 1999 Constitution for it to be in tandem with current realities.
In July 2017, 33 items were proposed and voted for, of which contentious ones received approval or rejection from either the federal chambers or the state houses of assemblies.
Some in this category are: 35 per cent affirmative action for women which allows for more representation in political positions, Not Too young to run bill (lowering the age for elective positions), devolution of power, financial autonomy, immunity for legislators, among others.
However, there are still concerns about increased participation of women in politics, state government seeking to retain control over local government resources, decentralization of powers from the federal to the state level, etc.
Speaking with some public analysts on the above issues, it is clear that they remain significant as much as when first introduced in previous assemblies.
Affirmative action for women…
Female Advocate and former aspirant for Kaduna state house of assembly, Ndi Kato, in a telephone interview with OrderPaperNG called for at least 35 per cent representation of women across all levels.
This is against the former proposal in the fourth alteration of the constitution which provided for mandatory thirty-five percent affirmative action for women in only ministerial positions.
The bill rejected in the 8th red chamber got support in the House of Representatives.

Kato said: “The best perspective right now is to go for affirmative action in political parties to ensure that women can have at least 35% representation across board; that is from grassroots all the way to federal level, from ward level to the national working committee. The concerns are the system of government Nigeria run. That is the starting point of women.”

Kato stated that Nigerian government should be “flexible” for everyone as it reflects the output of our governance. “Government ought to be flexible for everyone and with women lacking, it shows in the quality of our laws and bills and quality of governance generally. Gender-based issues and human rights are not taken seriously”, she added.
Fiscal autonomy for Local Government…
This amendment sought in the fourth alteration exercise seeks to stop state governors from appointing Caretaker leadership for Local Government Areas.
It will also prohibit governors from managing the Joint Allocation Accounts for Councils (JAAC) and allow separate account from the state government and councils when receiving federal allocation.
Although approved by the federal chambers in the 8th assembly, the bill was rejected by state assemblies.
Asides opposition from the state government, the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) rejected the bill because of fears of delayed salaries when local government are made in charge of their funds.
Speaking with OrderPaperNG on the issue, Councillor Wuse ward, Abuja Municipal Area Council, Mathias Aliu, allayed the fears, assuring that the bill allows for transparency and accountability.
He explained: “It has always been the State handling the salaries of primary school teachers and when there is change, people are always scared of it and based on recklessness of many of our leaders. Some teachers believe that if financial autonomy is granted some of the local government, some chairmen will abuse that post and hold back their money.
“Right now the state handles the money and transfers some to the local government (but) do you when it gets there some local governments still hold back some of the monies.
“But I want to assure them that based on the financial autonomy bill, it will grant transparency and accountability in the financial front; and also proper and scheduled elections will give a time-frame for positions.”
He however lamented that council chairmen have been unable to unite to lobby the state for the passage of the bill due to ‘excessive’ influence of state governors in their affairs.
Aliu said: “At the level of the local government chairman, I have not seen any fora whereby we come together to lobby for the local government autonomy probably because the Governors are against in and most of these chairman are appointed by the Governors; based on that, they don’t have the freewill to clamour for autonomy so that is why you have not seen the association lobbying.
“It is the National Assembly who have taken it upon themselves. Even now, there is a bill that has passed second reading in the House of Representatives which is being reviewed at the committee level.
“This Government has the political will to grant financial autonomy for local governments based on who we have at the leadership level but the governors are the ones hindering it.
“Because right now, the state Governors have the power to dissolve the local government and appoint them but this bill will allow for elections so you will see a lot of accountability.”

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