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Constitution: NASS Okays Independent Candidate, Approves Local Government Autonomy

Speaker, Nigeria's House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

Except two-third of the State of Assemblies in 36 States fail to ratify it, Independent candidacy in Nigeria may have become parts of her electoral process as it got the nod of the National Assembly on Tuesday as part of the series of latest amendments to the constitution.

Provisions for Independent candidacy in future elections in Nigeria was made by the federal lawmakers through amendments of sections 65 and 106 of the 1999 constitution just as the 774 Local Government Councils in Nigeria, were also granted financial and administrative autonomy through amendment of section 7.

These and other amendments made, are contained in the Conference Report of both the Senate and House of Representatives on constitution amendment, approved by the Senate.

The report which had 23 amendments in the constitution , also include conferment of immunity on the lawmakers through in respect of words spoken or written in the exercise of their legislative duties through amendment of section 4.

Others are section 9 of the constitution amended by removing the need for Presidential assent in constitution alteration exercise.

The new amendment also makes it mandatory for the President of the country to attend a joint meeting of the National Assembly once a year to deliver a State of the Nation Address to the joint session of the National Assembly as contained in section 67.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is also being empowered through the new amendments to de-register political parties for non -fulfillment of certain conditions such as breach of registration requirements and failure to secure/win either a presidential, governorship, Local Government Chairmanship or a seat in the National or State Assembly.

Another striking highlight of the amendments is section 124 which abolishes State Independent Electoral Commission and creates the office of the Auditor -General of the Local Government as well as the State Local Government Service Commission.

However the 23 amendments will have to be approved by 2/3 of the State Houses of Assembly before they can become operational, a necessity that made the Senate President, David Mark , directed the forwarding of the report to all the 36 states of the federation immediately.

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