State Lawmakers Hold the Nigerian Constitution Hostage

October 24, 2022

A couple of years ago, federal lawmakers in the National Assembly wanted to do something challenging and decided to amend the constitution. This is usually a good thing — the 1999 constitution was largely copied from the 1979 constitution which was written in an age when the internet was a pipe dream and people thought women only belonged in the kitchen.

State Lawmakers Hold the Nigerian Constitution Hostage

[Image source: Zikoko Memes]

In March 2022, the two chambers of the National Assembly voted on 68 bills covering national security, electoral matters, and debates on whether Nigerian women really need rights. The lawmakers passed 44 of those 66 bills and said no to every single bill that had “women” on it. Maybe it’s still 1979 after all. 

But that’s not even the most shocking part of this story.

To amend the constitution, it is not just enough that the elite in Abuja vote on it — no, it is one of the rare times that Nigeria actually functions as a unit. 24 out of 36 state Houses of Assembly also have to accept or reject the 44 passed bills before the president can sign them into law or reject them.

Seven months after the National Assembly transmitted the 44 bills to their state colleagues to consider, only 11 of them have voted. The deputy senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege, complained this week that the remaining 25 states have demanded a little something something from the National Assembly before they can do anything on the bills. So they initiated a ransom negotiation.

State Lawmakers Hold the Nigerian Constitution Hostage

[Image source: Zikoko Memes]

The conference of speakers of state assemblies sent a ransom note to the National Assembly highlighting four bills that should be passed alongside the 44. The proposed bills will establish state police, establish state judicial councils, streamline the procedure for removing presiding officers of state Houses of Assembly, and institutionalise legislative bureaucracy.

The National Assembly has spent more than ₦‎1 billion on the constitutional amendment process but it’s in danger of derailment by state legislators who just want their backs scratched. 

If the stalling state lawmakers don’t vote on the bills before the National Assembly’s current term ends in June 2023, then there’ll be no constitutional amendment. 

Who blinks first?

State Lawmakers Hold the Nigerian Constitution Hostage

What else happened this week?

INEC isn’t down with the violence, guys

[Image source: Premium Times]

Nigerian elections aren’t complete without all the fake promises, malfunctioning voting equipment, vote-buying, ballot snatching and senseless violence that puts voters in harm’s way.

This week, the gloves started to come off just a little bit on some of the ugly sides of contesting for seats in Nigeria. On the soft spectrum, the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, called the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, “a clown” on Twitter. It was an unprovoked tweet from a governor bragging about not exercising his power to set security forces loose on a presidential candidate. It’d be nice if he can set them loose on the terrorists in Kaduna State instead.

As distasteful as El-Rufai’s tweet was, we witnessed a more horrifying display of real-world violence at the campaign rally of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in Kaduna State. Thugs targeted PDP supporters at the rally and unleashed chaos just over a week after political thugs attacked an LP meeting in Enugu State.

Being the referee for the 2023 general elections, INEC already doesn’t like the handwriting on the wall. A violent electioneering campaign will likely lead to a violent election. So in a very brief message to parties, candidates and their supporters this week, INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said:

Have you seen this video?

Question of the week

This week marked the second anniversary of the historic #EndSARS protests of 2020. We’ve spoken to activists to hear what has changed about police brutality since then, but we’d also like to hear from you.

Click here to tweet your answer to @ZikokoCitizen on Twitter.

Ehen, one more thing…

Nigeria is still suffering from the devastation of floods that have affected millions of people and are expected to cause problems till the end of November. Please follow us to keep up to date on government warnings in case you’re in an area at risk of flooding.

Don’t forget to lend a helping hand to victims in whichever way you can.

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