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Buhari Signs 16 Constitution Amendment Bills; States Can Now Generate, Distribute Electricity, Own Railway
•State assemblies/Judiciary get financial autonomy
•President must appoint ministers within 60 days
Deji Elumoye, Sunday Aborisade and Udora Orizu in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the constitutional amendment allowing states in the country to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity in areas covered by the national grid.
This is one of the 19 bills the President assented to yesterday, 16 of which altered some provisions of the 1999 Constitution – Fifth Alteration Bills 2023.
Another of the Constitution alteration bills assented to (Constitution Fifth Alteration Bill No. 45, Timeframe for the Submission of the Names of Ministerial or Commissioner Nominees) mandates the president-elect to transmit names of his minister-nominees to the National Assembly within two months of his inauguration.
The law, which takes immediate effect, is also applicable to all the governors-elect as they are expected to seek the approval of the state assembly for their commissioner-nominees within 60 days from the date of their swearing-in.
A statement issued yesterday by the Senior Special Assistant to The President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare explained that the President had also signed into law financial independence for State Houses of Assembly and States’ Judiciary – Fifth Alteration Bill 2023 No 9.
He said the provisions were part of the 16 bills in the Constitutional Alterations of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), transmitted to the President by the National Assembly early this year.
With the Fifth Alteration Bill No. 33, Devolution of Powers (National Grid System), Nigeria’s 36 states can now join the electricity generation business.
Another Constitutional alteration approves the renaming of the Nigeria Prison Service to the Nigeria Correctional Service -Fifth Alteration Bill No. 31, Devolution of Powers for Correctional Services.
Another one granted rights to the state governments to establish their own railway service – Fifth Alteration Bill No. 32, evolution of Powers, Railways. With this, the railway moves from the Exclusive Legislative List to the concurrent list.
Part of Omoworare’s statement reads: “The highlights of the assented Constitutional Alteration Bills, amongst others, are: Ensuring financial independence of State Houses of Assembly and State Judiciary; Regulating of the first session and inauguration of members-elect of the National and State Houses of Assembly and for related matters.
“Ensuring that the President and governors submit the names of persons nominated as ministers or commissioners within 60 days of taking the oath of office for confirmation by the Senate or State House of Assembly; and for related matters.
“Enable states generate, transmit, and distribute electricity in areas covered by the national grid; and for related matters; Excluding the period of intervening events in the computation of time for determining pre-election matters petitions; Regulating the first session and inauguration of members-elect of National and State Assemblies.
“Changing prisons to correctional service and re-designate correctional service in the concurrent list; and moving item “railway” from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list.”
Omoworare added that the President also assented to three other bills which included: “The Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology Act, The Nigerian Institute of International Relations Act, and The Federal Medical Centres (Amendment) Acts.”
The National Assembly had in January transmitted 35 Constitution amendment bills to the President for assent following the Senate resolution directing the former Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr. Olatunde Ojo, to forward all the proposed legislation that had met the requirement for assent as provided for in Section 9 (2) of the 1999 Constitution.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase has commended President Buhari for assenting to some legislations that altered some provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
Wase, who doubles as the Chairman, Special Ad-hoc Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution, noted that the Constitution (Fifth Alteration) bill, 2023 is fragmented into 16 bills.
He noted that four of the bills centred on devolution of powers/promotion of true Federalism and also strengthening of State Houses of Assembly and Judiciary.
The Deputy Speaker also commended members of the 9th National Assembly for working tirelessly to ensure the passage of “these legacy legislations”.