The National Assembly has amended the Constitution to abolish the controversial state/ local government joint account, to make the third tier of government completely financially autonomous.
This was part of the key amendments that scaled through at the Joint Retreat of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on the Review of the 1999 Constitution held in Lagos over the weekend and presided over by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
On the Local Government Autonomy the National Assembly effected the amendment of Section 162 to carry out the abolition of State Joint Local Government Account so that each LG maintains an independent special account into which allocations accruing to it shall be directly paid from the Federation Account and the state government.
The Constitution amendment also seeks to provide uniform three-year tenure for all the local governments. The tenures have been abused with some states reducing it to as low as one year.
There is also a provision to ensure that monies allocated to local governments are used for the purposes for which they were meant, including, prompt and regular payment of primary school teachers’ salaries. Section 7 was also altered to provide that only democratically constituted local governments can receive allocation from Federation Account and state governments and can be recognised by any authority or exercise any function exercisable by local governments in the Constitution.
Furthermore, Sections 82 and 122 of the 1999 Constitution were amended to reduce the period within which the president or the state governor might authorise expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund from six months to three months.
Based on the current provisions, a president or governor could make expenditures based on the provisions of the Appropriation Act (or Budget) of the previous year for up to six months, pending the approval of the budget for the current fiscal year.
Section 121 was also altered to provide for financial autonomy of the State Houses of Assembly by placing them on First Line Charge.
That is to say that any amount standing to the credit of the State House of Assembly in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state shall be paid directly to the state assembly.
Section 93 is also amended to provide for State Assembly Service Commission.
In Presidential Assent, Sections of the Constitution, such as Sections 58, 59, and 100 to provide 30-day timeframe for the president or governor to assent to a bill or indicate his refusal of assent.
By this, where he/she does not do so, it automatically becomes a law after 30 days.
In America, it is two weeks. What obtains now is that the executive just files away any bill it does not like and allows it gather dust without indicating refusal of assent to enable the legislature address its concern or activate processes to override the veto.
The Joint Committee recommended setting a timeframe within which the president and governor MUST appoint ministers/ commissioners to form the Federal Executive Council/ State Executive Council.