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Senate passes first amendment on Constitution

Compels President, Governors to hand over when on vacation

By Emmanuel Aziken
ABUJA—THE Senate, yesterday, adopted the first alterations to the 1999 Constitution giving the President a 14-day time frame to hand over to the Vice-President whenever he is on vacation or in a state of physical incapacitation.
A similar constitutional requirement was also put on governors.

The passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill altering Sections 145 and 190 of the Constitution was the first time either chamber of the National Assembly was able to amend any of the letters of the 1999 constitution since the advent of the Fourth Republic in May 1999. Senate President, Senator David Mark, presided at yesterday’s epochal sitting that was attended by at least 90 senators.

86 senators voted in support of the amendment bill that put a compulsion on the National Assembly to invest the Vice-President with authority to assume the office of Acting President of the country where the President is unable or fails to transmit a letter of his absence to the National Assembly.

Senate fast tracks debate on bill

Four senators voted against the amendment. The quartet were senators Garba Lado and Ibrahim Ida both from Katsina State and senators Kaka Mallam Yale, ANPP, Bornu, and Atiku Bagudu, PDP, Kebbi. Senator Bagudu is the newest senator and was sworn in last month while Senator Yale voted No for the amendments in protest that he was not given the opportunity to express his opinion during the Senate debate on the amendments prior to the vote.

The Constitution Amendment Bill titled a “bill for an Act to Alter the Provisions of Sections 145 and 190 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and For Other Matters Connected Thereto, 2010” is sponsored by Senator Ike Ekweremadu and 43 others.

The bill was fast-tracked for third reading and passage following the second reading of the bill at the end of debate on it yesterday.

Senators who contributed to the debate on the bill included senators Nimi Barigha Amange, PDP, Bayelsa; Chris Anyanwu, PDP, Imo East; Tawar Wada, PDP, Gombe South; Joy Emodi, PDP, Anambra North; Zainab Kure, PDP, Niger, Joel Danlami, PDP, Taraba, among others.

All the senators supported the amendment of the bill.

The bill as passed, specifically seeks to add a proviso to Sections 145 and 190 that would empower the Vice-President and Deputy Governors to take on the roles of the President and Governors respectively after 14 days in the absence of a transmitted letter of a vacation by the substantive President or Governor.

Section 145 of the Principal Act is amended by substituting for the existing section a new section “145”- that would now read:

(1) whenever the President is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, he shall transmit a written declaration to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to that effect, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, the Vice President shall perform the functions of the President as Acting President.

(2) In the event that the President is unable or fails to transmit the written declaration mentioned in sub-section 1 of this section within 14 days, the National Assembly shall, by a resolution made by a simple majority of the vote of each House of the National Assembly, mandate the Vice President to perform the functions of the office of the President, as Acting President, until the President transmits a letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, that he is now available to resume his functions as President.”

Section 190 of the Principal Act is amended by substituting for the existing section a new section “190”-
(1) Whenever the Governor is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the function of his office, he shall transmit a written declaration to the Speaker of the House of Assembly to that effect, and until he transmits to the Speaker of the House of Assembly a written declaration to the contrary, the Deputy Governor shall perform the functions of the Governor as Acting Governor.

(2) In the event that the Governor is unable or fails to transmit the written declaration mentioned in sub-section 1 of this section within 14 days, the House of Assembly shall, by a resolution made by a simple majority of the vote of the House, mandate the Deputy Governor to perform the functions of the office of the Governor, as Acting Governor, until the Governor transmits a letter to the Speaker, that he is now available to resume his functions as Governor.”


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