By ADEBIYI ADEDAPO,
In what seems like covert moves to commence the much touted restructuring of the country, beginning with devolution of powers to the federating units, the National Assembly has resolved to decongest the exclusive legislative list.
In the ongoing constitution amendment, the federal legislature has concluded plans to decongest the exclusive legislative list by transferring certain items contained therein to the concurrent list, thereby enabling the states to make laws in respect of those items.
This is contained in a document exclusively obtained by LEADERSHIP titled, ‘A Bill For An Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to move certain items to the Concurrent Legislative List to give more legislative powers to States; and for related matters’.
The Bill, which seeks to alter second schedule of the 1999 constitution (as amended), is expected to enhance the principle of federalism and good governance.
The proposed amendment is one of the 23-item resolution approved by the special ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives on constitution review, headed by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun. The 23 items have also been approved by the ad-hoc committee of the Senate.
While the National Assembly makes laws for inter-state related matters and in the Federal Capital Territory, the state Houses of Assembly make laws for related matters within their respective states.
According to the federal lawmakers, the said amendment is aimed at devolving power from the central government to the state government to be able to make laws in respect of some items and new insertions.
If eventually passed into law, the Bill shall empower states Houses of Assembly to make laws for their respective states, with respect to electricity and the establishment of electric power stations, including the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity to areas not covered by a national grid system within that state.
State Houses of Assembly will also be allowed to make laws relating to agricultural policies, management and regulation of lands for agricultural purposes within the states.
Other items captured in the proposed concurrent legislative list include, Arbitration, Environment, Railway, Health, Stamp duties, Road Safety, Pensions and Youths.
In another amendment, the National Assembly seeks to ensure that subsequent ministers for the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) are appointed among Abuja natives.
This proposal is meant to address the perceived marginalization of the indigenous people of FCT as well as ensure that they are represented in the Federal Executive Council.
The proposed amendment is titled, ‘A Bill for An Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the appointment of a Minister from the FCT, Abuja to ensure that FCT represented in the Federal Executive Council’.
The Bill seeks to alter section 147 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the appointment of a minister from the FCT, Abuja to ensure that FCT is represented in the Federal Executive Council.
Section 147 (3) of the Principal Act is altered by substituting for the word, ‘from’ in line 4, the word ‘from’ and inserting after the word ‘State’ in line 4 the words ‘and Federal Capital Territory’.