By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Senate has suspended vote on Clause (9) of the 1999 Constitution, which seeks to strip the President of exclusive powers to sign new draft Constitution before it can become Constitution of Nigeria.
This is even as the Senate yesterday adjourned plenary to June 24, to mark the end of the third session of the 2014 legislative calendar.
The upper legislative chamber had slated yesterday to vote on whether or not to expunge the section of the Constitution, which confers exclusive power of assent on the President for any draft Constitution to become operational in Nigeria.
Recall that the Senate Committee on the review of 1999 Constitution had altered Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution, by introducing subsection (3A) which reads “For the purposes of altering the provisions of this Constitution, the assent of the President shall not be required”.
It is the above subsection that the Senate suspended voting on today, but if the lawmakers eventually pass it when they return, only the consent of simple majority of Nigerians in two/third states the federation shall be required for any draft constitution to become new Constitution.
This simple majority vote in two/third of the states would be arrived at through a referendum to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) within six months of receipt of the draft Constitution from the Clerk of the National Assembly.
Other sub-sections added to the amended Section (9) of the Constitution seeks to restrict the process of drafting a new Constitution to only the federal lawmakers, in as much as it bars the sitting Presidents from initiating the process of drafting new constitution.
Recall that attempt by the Constitution Review Committee of the Senate, led by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, to include sitting Presidents among those to initiate the process of drafting new constitution met a brick wall in the Senate.
Majority of the senators argued that it was a plot to delegate the basic duty of the Legislative arm to the Executive arm, hence it was rejected by the Chamber.
Meanwhile, this section that included the President in power among those to initiate the process of writing new Constitution for Nigeria has been expunged by the Constitution Review Committee of the Senate.