By Tordue Salem
ABUJAâ€”The House of Representatives yesterday took through second reading some amendments to the 1999 Constitution.
The amendment clauses seek to broaden the political space to allow aspirants to public office run independent of political affiliations and to make INEC independent of Executive funding.
The proposed amendments to the Constitution as contained in a â€œBill for an Act to alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and for Matters Connected Thereto, 2009â€, are drawn from the Muhammed Uwaisâ€™ Electoral Reforms Report.
The lead debate on the Bill by the House Leader, Tunde Akogun, says â€œThe Bill provides for independent candidate, thereby expanding the political space for persons seeking election as the President, Governor, Members of the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assemblyâ€.
Other highpoints to the Bill, he stated â€œinclude the amendment of Section 84 of the Constitution on the remuneration of the President and certain other officers. This Section is sought to be amended to make funding of the INEC a first line charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.â€
The Bill also seeks to amend a section that â€œseeks to exclude the decision of the administrative panel of inquiry as a condition for disqualifying a candidate for election to the Office of the Governorâ€.
Other amendments are â€œprovision of the Constitution dealing with the restriction on formation of political parties. This amendment proposes an additional condition for an association to function as a Political Party so as to check the proliferation of non-functional political partiesâ€.
The Bill also seeks â€œTo amend the Constitution by providing for an affirmative action for increased women participation in executive positionsâ€.
The Leader of the Minority, Muhammed Ali Ndume, in his contribution on the matter, said with reports from the National Political Reform Conference, Uwais Report and the immediate past efforts to amend the Constitution, the work of the job of the National Assembly was half done.
â€œThere was National Political Reform Conference, the report is there. There was a constitution reform effort in the last House and the report is also there. What we now need is the input of Nigerians.
â€œNigerians are so anxious to contribute to Constitution review, so I am pleading with my colleagues to let this Bill pass through second readingâ€.
Other supporters of The Bill, were Muhammed Maifatta (ANPP Kano), Abdul Ningi (PDP Bauchi), Patrick Obahiagbon (PDP Edo), Terngu Tsegba (PDP Benue), Leo Ogor (PDP Delta), Paulinus Igwe (PDP Edo), Garba Shehu Matazu (PDP katsina), Auwalu Garba (PDP Bauchi), Samson Osagie (PDP Edo), Uche Ekwunife (PDP Anambra).
Other supporters were Albert Adeogun(PDP Osun), Abdullahi Umaru Faruk(PDP Kebbi), CID Maduabum(PDP Anambra) and Henry Dickson Seriake(PDP Bayelsa), Femi Gbaja(AC Lagos) and several others.
But other members like Independence Ogunewe(PDP Imo), Igo Aguma(PDP Rivers) kicked against the Bill insisting that the House must debate a more comprehensive report on the Constitution instead of taking it â€œpiecemealâ€.