Constitution amendment: NASS approves financial autonomy for LGC, state legislature, judiciary 

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…Rejects pension for presiding officers, others

…Rejection of bill on VAT welcome development — CPPE CEO, Muda

By Abimbola Abatta and Ariemu Ogaga

The National Assembly, on Tuesday, approved financial autonomy for Local Government Councils (LGCs), State Legislature, and Judiciary in the country.

The approval followed voting on the report of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (Fifth Alteration) Bills, 2022 at plenary.

For the financial autonomy for LGCs, 92 Senators voted in favour of it while two voted against it. For the State Legislature and Judiciary, 83 Senators voted in its favour, while one senator voted against it.

In the same vein, both chambers of the Assembly rejected the bill seeking to grant life pension to presiding officers of the National Assembly.

53 Senators voted against the bill titled, “Bill for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide Pension for Presiding Officers of the National Assembly; and for Related Matters,” while 34 voted in support.

The NASS equally passed a bill to empower lawmakers at the National and State Assemblies to summon the President and State Governors on security issues.

77 Senators voted in favour of the bill, 13 voted against while 1 lawmaker abstained.

The Bill seeks alteration to Section 67 of the Principal Act by inserting after subsection (3), a new subsection (4).

The new subsection (4) provides, “Nothing in this section shall preclude the National Assembly from summoning the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to attend a joint session of the National Assembly to answer questions on national security or any issue whatsoever, over which the National Assembly has powers to make laws.”

The bill further seeks to alter Section 108 of the Principal Act to insert a new subsection (4) to provide: “Nothing in this section shall preclude the House of Assembly of the State from summoning the Governor of the State to attend a sitting of the House of Assembly to answer questions on security or on any issue whatsoever, over which the House of Assembly has powers to male laws.”

A bill seeking Mayoral status in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was also rejected by the Senate.

62 Senators voted for the bill, which sought to alter the Constitution to create a democratic governance structure for the FCT through the office of Mayor of the FCT, Abuja, who is to be democratically elected, while 25 voted against it.

The Bill that sought to give recognition to the constitutional status of the FCT by ensuring that a person who is a registered voter and resident in the FCT is appointed as a minister representing the FCT in the Federal Executive Council was also rejected as 67 Senators voted for while seven voted against it.

Furthermore, the upper chamber rejected the bill on Diaspora Voting as 29 lawmakers voted for the bill while 62 voted against the it.

The Bill sought to amend the Constitution to allow Nigerians living outside the country to participate in the electoral process and vote.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers voted on the 68 amendments proposed by their ad hoc committees on constitution review.

On the Value Added Tax (VAT), which had been in dispute over who should collect it between the Federal and State Governments, the lawmakers rejected the bill seeking to put it on the Exclusive list.

44 Senators kicked against it while 41 voted in support of the VAT bill.

Reacting to the VAT bill that was rejected, the CEO of Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE) and Former Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr Muda Yusuf said it is a welcome development.

He, however, stated that there should be fairness and equity in the distribution of what is collected from the Value Added Tax (VAT).

According to him, “From the perspective of collection efficiency, it has a robust structure, spread and capacity to discharge such responsibility. Besides, mandating the states to collect VAT presents many implementation challenges, especially with regards to interstate transactions and value chains that cover several states.

“The bigger issue to address is that of equitable distribution of whatever is collected. There should be a strong derivation factor in distribution to ensure fairness and equity,” he stated.