Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Constitution amendment after the Senate's vote

With the votes in the Senate today for the amendment of the Nigerian Constitution, it is important for citizens to realise that there are still more steps to be taken to bring this to a logical conclusion. The House of Representatives will still have to vote tomorrow on the same proposed amendments.
It is safe to say however that for the clauses already defeated in the Senate, it would remain a mere academic exercise when the Reps vote. They could as well save time by skipping those ones...same way they had to abandon the Constitution amendment process in 2006, the day after the senate killed the bill and ended the notorious third term bid.
After the votes in Senate and Reps, the provisions agreed to by both houses will become the amendment passed. Those ‘passed’ amendments will still be sent to all the 36 houses of assembly to concur. When these are sent to the respective houses of assembly, every single amendment, to be validly passed must be agreed to by simple majority of at least two-thirds of the state houses of assembly (i.e. 24).
One area of interest is the amendment passed by the Senate today to reduce the age qualification for elective positions. The new proposal, subject to concurrence by the House of Representatives and at least 24 state houses of assembly, provides the following age limits: House of Assembly and House of Reps 25; Governor 30 and Senate and Pres 35.
If this scales through, I foresee a bit of a technical, albeit theoretical problem here though. Let us suppose that a 26 year old is elected into the house of assembly and becomes speaker. Now supposing events play out that the governor and deputy governor can no longer hold their positions. Then by the provisions of the Constitution, the speaker of the house of assembly shall become acting governor. The question then would be, can a person act in a position he/she is disqualified from holding in the first place, since to become governor, a person must be at least 30?

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