The Nigerian Senate Tuesdayrejected a proposal to alter the Constitution to provide for 35 percent affirmative action for women in the federal cabinet.
The Senate also rejected the alteration which would have mandated states to ensure that 20 per cent of state commissioners appointed are women.
A total of 49 of the 96 senators present during the electronic voting on the bill to further amend the 1999 Constitution supported the proposal.Despite the slight majority, however, the proposal still failed as it came short of the 73 votes needed to succeed.
Seventy Three (73) votes or a total of two-thirds of the 109 Senators, were required to approve the affirmative action.
Lawmakers also voted that, a woman who married out of her state or Local Government of origin will not have the choice to decide if to contest an election as an indigene of her place of origin or her place of marriage.
This will also apply in the case of political appointment as the woman would not have the choice whether to be appointed as an indigene of her place of origin or her place of marriage.
Reducing the Powers of the Presidency?
The senate passed an amendment to reduce the minimum age requirements for the president, governors and members of the Senate and House of Representatives. The age limit would be reduced for the president and senators from 40 to 35 years old, for state governors from 35 to 30 and for House of Representatives members from 30 to 25.
Senators also voted in favor of the Independent Candidature Bill allowing for inclusion of independent candidates to contest elections.
The Senate voted in favor of a reduction to the president’s ability to withhold assent for a bill passed by parliament, voted to impose time limits on key presidential decisions such as nominating ministers. Governors and the president must now submit list of commissioners or ministers, with portfolios, to the legislature within 30 days of inauguration.
They also proposed time limit for federal budgets.
Senators present unanimously approved the inclusion of former presidents of the Senate and former speakers of the House of Representatives as members of the Council of State.
Prior to the approval, the council of state comprised serving and pasts presidents and heads of state as well as the serving president and speakers of the legislature. However, only past leaders of each of the chambers that were not impeached during their tenure are eligible to become members of the council.
The Senate also approved the granting of immunity to lawmakers and indemnify them from anything they say during the course of plenary or committee meeting. And, approved the change of name of the Nigerian Police Force to the Nigeria Police to reflect their core mandate.
The Senate’s vote is seen by many analysts as a means to weaken the power of the presidency and strengthen the legislature.
If the Senate amendments to the Constitution are approved by the lower house and signed by the president, it would be only the second time the 1999 Constitution has been amended.
In 2011, some major amendments were also passed under former president Goodluck Jonathan.
The lower house is expected to vote on the proposed amendments this week.
Sources: News Agency of Nigeria/ Premium Times Nigeria