From: Ndubuisi Orji and Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
Members of the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, unanimously rejected a Bill seeking to empower the National Assembly to impeach state governors and their deputies.
The Bill, jointly sponsored by Hon. Edward Pwajok from Plateau State and Ali Isa JC, from Gombe State, sought to amend the Constitution to give the National Assembly powers to remove a state governor or deputy “in appropriate circumstances.”
The Bill entitled, “A Bill to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the proviso to Section 11(4) of the Constitution to enable the National Assembly to remove a Governor or Deputy Governor of a State in appropriate circumstances and for other related matters,” was generally condemned by members of the House.
Leading debate on the Bill, Pwajok argued that since the constitution empowers the National Assembly to take over the function of state assemblies under certain circumstances, the constitution should also be amended to enable the federal legislature sack a state governor or deputy governor, whenever the needs arise.
“Why should we be able to remove the House of Assembly and not be able to remove the governor,” he contended.
Canvassing support for the Bill, the lawmaker said the proposed amendment, would save the country some problem in the event of unforeseen occurances in states, noting that” we have seen things that we never anticipated happening.”
Speaking on the Bill, the House Leader, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila described it as “patently defective” and an act of legislative over-reach.
Gbajabiamila added that allowing the Bill would be tantamount to turning the country into a unitary state. He said there was no need considering the Bill as it would never scale through in states, where at least 24 state Houses of Assembly are expected to support it, before it becomes law.
The House Leader said: “This is a Bill that seeks to empower the NASS to remove a state governor. Our constitution tells us that we runs a federal system. Allowing this bill will make this country like a unitary system.
“Why are we wasting legislative time? It will be dead on arrival in the states. No matter how you try to justify it. It does not make moral or legal sense.”
Overwhelmed by the barage of criticisms against the Bill, Pwajok eventually withdrew it.
However, he said he was happy that the Bill succeeded in stirring the federalist idea of the members of the House and prayed that the same spirit will be displayed in other issues on the country’s federalism.
Following the withdrawal of the contentious Bill, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yusuff Lasun, who presided at yesterday’s plenary, said the debate is deemed not to have taken place.
Earlier, Lasun announced that henceforth, bills seeking alterations to the 1999 constitution will no longer be entertained on the floor.
He said this is to enable the Special Ad-hoc Committee on Review of the Constitution to complete it’s assignments in good time.
The Deputy Speaker, who chairs the Constitution Review Committee, said the committee wants the new constitution to be ready for the President’s assent before the end of the third year of the present administration.
“We want to conclude work on the constitution before the end up the third year of this administration so that what ever amendment will not be said to have political undertone,” Lasun said.