Politics of committee appointments stalls fresh constitution amendment in Senate

No fewer than 20 Bills seeking various amendments to the 1999 Constitution are yet to be considered in the Senate due to politics of appointment into committees, a development that has stalled the naming of a committee for that purpose.

For over seven months, the Senate leadership was yet to resolve the issues around the appointment of Chairman and members of the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution due to disagreements in the upper legislative chamber.

Although the convention in the National Assembly has been that the Deputy Senate President presides over the Constitution Amendment Committee, some principal officers of the Ninth Senate believed that there was no rigid rule that stipulates that the Deputy Senate President must continue to hold the position.

Those who hold this opinion are said to be making case for the appointment of the Senate Majority leader, Yahaya Abdullahi from Kebbi State to be appointed to preside over the committee.

The Guardian also learnt that the allocation of N1 billion in the 2020 budget for the review of the Constitution has contributed to the jostling for membership of the committee.

The money will be split in two parts of N500 million each for the Senate and House of Representatives committees that would review the constitution.

However, the money was not part of the National Assembly’s statutory allocation of N128b as it came under a separate sub-head in the Ministry of Finance budget.

But Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who doubles as chairman of Senate Selection Committee that appoints committee chairmen and members, had linked the delay in naming the committee to the volume of work before the Senate since it was inaugurated on June 11, 2019.

He explained that the selection committee would soon meet to decide on the appointment of the chairmanship of the committee.

However, following increased pressure by lawmakers, the Senate said yesterday that it expects Lawan’s decision on the matter as soon as it resumes plenary on Tuesday.

Senate Spokesman, Godiya Akwashiki, said he believed “that Lawan will honour his promise to constitute all outstanding committees on resumption from the Christmas and New Year break.

He described the issue of constitution amendment as very important now that various sections of the country are clamouring for a review of the nation’s laws to tackle insecurity and other socio-economic challenges.

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