Judex Okoro, Calabar
The on-going constitutional amendment has received a boost as the Cross River State House of Assembly has passed the Not-Too-Young to Run Bill.
Other bills that got unanimous approval of the lawmakers included the strengthening of the judiciary for speedy dispensation of justice, autonomy of the legislature, time frame for determination of pre-election matters, providing procedures for passing a Constitution Alteration Bill where the President withholds assent and immunity for legislators for words spoken on the floor of the House or at committee proceedings and instutionalise legislative bureaucracy.
The House also voted in favour of giving INEC sufficient time frame to conduct bye-elections and provide grounds for de-registration of political parties, to change ‘Nigeria Police Force’ to ‘Nigeria Police’ as well as one term for those who were sworn-in as president or Governor to complete the term of elected President or Governor.
However, the legislators, in a slim margin, voted against the provision for independent candidacy just as they deferred the abolishing joint account and create financial autonomy for local governments’ bill.
The House, during plenary, on Tuesday, considered the 13 bills seeking alterations of the 15 bills transmitted to state Houses of Assembly by the National Assembly for the amendment of the 1999 constitution.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the plenary session, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. John Gaul-Lebo, said the House had earlier organised a public hearing where the 25 state constituencies presented their positions on the 15 alterations.
Lebo said: “The Cross River House of Assembly voted for 13 alterations out of the 15 transmitted to us by the National Assembly for our concurrent resolutions and transmission back to them.
“We deferred the bill for Local Government Autonomy and the bill to strengthen Local Government Administration in Nigeria to another legislative day. This is to help us do more consultations on the two bills.
“After the public hearing, we got memoranda’s from some groups and we felt we should give them fair hearing as it concerns primary school teachers salaries, primary healthcare and other local government issues.
“We voted overwhelmingly for 12 items while the bill for Independent Candidacy was voted against. In all, we got 12 resolutions in support and one against. The Not-Too-Young-to-Run bill will afford the young ones the opportunity to seek election in Nigeria.”
He maintained that the older generation have stayed for power for too long, adding that the bill seeks to position the youths for future political leadership.
On Independent Candidacy, the Speaker further said that Nigeria was not yet ripe for Independent Candidacy, adding that Nigeria lacks the institutional framework to manage the process.