Potpourri News Logo
Potpourri News

How the 5th Amendment of the Constitution Transforms State Governance

How the 5th Amendment of the Constitution Transforms State Governance

16 pieces of legislation were signed by President Muhammadu Buhari that changed some clauses in the 1999 Constitution, which has since undergone additional amendments. This is the fifth attempt since the Fourth Republic’s founding, more than two decades ago, to address the various problems with this supreme body of national law. Because it was created by a military administration, calls for its complete abolition in favor of one drafted by Nigeria’s citizens have persisted. These reforms, which fall short of the public’s expectations, send a clear message about federalism: Nigeria should be administered like a federation.

constitution 495x330 1

The 16 bills were among the 35 that the Ninth National Assembly forwarded to the President in January, following a period of filibustering in the House of Representatives, a sluggish pace of adjournment, and demands a quid pro quo from the 36 State Houses of Assembly before they gave their approval, as required by the constitution. The governors had prompted the State Houses of Assembly to make these demands. The power struggle came close to ending the exercise, which cost more than a billion naira, in its entirety.

In essence, nine of the laws addressed significant issues, while the remaining seven just fixed typos in the titles of a few Local Government Areas. The State Houses of Assembly and the judiciary, two branches of government that together with the executive branch constitute the constitutional “triangle of democratic administration,” were seeking financial autonomy under Bill No. 6. Yet, the abuse of power by the state chief executives has weakened the other two branches of government, as highlighted by their refusal to maintain financial independence.

The checks and balances that the constitution statutorily requires of the legislatures are essentially rendered meaningless in the majority of states where they are little more than rubber stamps for the governors. The judicial system is no different. The result of all these contradictions has been the elevation of governors to the status of virtual lawless emperors. While the bulk of lawmakers is restrained or even ejected, compromised legislators occasionally control legislatures. The supervision responsibilities of these Houses are disregarded, which permits the robbery of public funds, which has become a common practice in governance.

Governors must be held accountable, and the latest constitutional revisions have opened up new opportunities for legislative bodies to carry out their duties without restraint or interference.

For many years, the desire for power devolution or restructuring in the nation has dominated public conversation. By releasing the productivity of Micro, Small and Medium Businesses (MSMEs), creating jobs, and expanding the tax bases of states, the generation, and distribution of electricity by sub-national governments will strengthen their economies.

constitution 1 okbtx1v4758kmjd1tmrnvfjl2nmeadeeluau5eh1m8

Most importantly, it will lessen their blatant reliance on the federal account allocation committee’s (FAAC) monthly disbursements for governance-related activities. The significance of this is made clear by Vanessa Phala, the country director for the International Labor Organization (ILO), who mentions that MSMEs account for 48% of Nigeria’s $441 billion GDP. Many firms have moved to other West African nations, and numerous small businesses have shut down due to the appallingly poor power supply in the nation.

It is disappointing that Nigeria, and particularly the National Assembly, waited thus long to accept the necessity of decentralizing the supply of energy. Because of this, Lagos State was unable to use the 270 megawatts it produced through its Independent Power Project collaboration with AES/Enron (IPP). When Babatunde Fashola was the governor, the electricity was rolled into the national grid.

The state’s long-term ambition to produce 1,000 MW of solar energy by 2030, which the constitutional assent has now strengthened, was inspired by its judgment that the precedent-setting template was abnormal.

With the Geometric Power Project in Aba, another IPP designed to maximize the productive or innovative capability of the city with a continuous energy supply, Abia State is already in this league. Other states that had previously played with the notion can now seriously consider it. A nation with a national grid that experienced 15 outages in 2017 and a power output that fluctuated between 2,200 MW and 3,553 MW in January cannot support its over 200 million inhabitants with economic growth and development or social stability.

As the Railway Act of 1955, which stifled state efforts, is no longer in effect, new rail tracks can be constructed in states using private funding to improve both public transit and the flow of products and services. Fuel tanker explosions, which occur frequently on our roadways, have claimed numerous lives. 

Since that part of the products would be transported by rail, this will dramatically decrease. It is absurd that South Africa, which is Africa’s second-largest economy, has 30,000 kilometers of rail tracks while Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy, had only 3,528 kilometers in 2015, according to the World Bank. Even more absurd is the difference in power production and distribution between the two largest economies in Africa.

High levels of insecurity are a persistent existential issue throughout the nation, partly because non-state entities like Boko Haram, ISWAP, kidnappers, and bandits control vast areas of territory. 

The fifth constitutional amendment was supposed to address this by establishing multi-layered policing for a stronger security blanket. This oversight is serious. Instead of addressing this, the Ahmed Lawan-led NASS was preoccupied with passing a self-serving Bill that sought to appoint former National Assembly leaders to the National Council of State, a proposal that the president rightly rejected, as well as a bill that would have extended the 60-day window for presidents and governors to form their cabinets.

Any of these two types of elected leaders who are unable to assemble his team within a few days of taking office, as is customary in the US and the UK, is unqualified for the position. Buhari’s hesitation in doing so ought to go away with his administration.

It is intended that the new Tenth National Assembly would pick up where its predecessor left off as soon as is practical. If the nation wants to control instability, it urgently requires a multi-layered policing organization like those found in federal jurisdictions like the US and Canada, or even in a unitary political body like the UK with 45 police forces. Legislative bodies, state governors who serve as the nation’s top security officials and Nigerians from all six regions have been vocal in advocating for this.

For instance, according to data from Nigeria Security Tracker, 2,968 people were slain and 1,484 others were kidnapped in Zamfara State alone from January to March 2022. (NST). This harvest of bloodshed is not unique to the state. This data sheet on horror and barbarism ought to spur creative problem-solving and proactive action regarding fresh methods to protect people and property. Let the states lead this effort in light of the obvious, appalling results of centralized police throughout the nation since the fall of the First Republic.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *