The Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution has assured that the amendment would be concluded in earnest to further reform the nation’s electoral system.
Chairman of the committee, Ike Ekweremadu, gave the assurance at a meeting of the committee on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ekweremadu said, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media), Uche Anichukwu, that the amendment would reposition the local government system, transfer more powers to states and reform the judicial system.
He said that experts working with the House of Representatives and the Senate Committees on the Constitution amendment project had already harmonised the positions of the two committees ahead of their joint retreat.
“The retreat aims to vote and adopt the proposals before presenting them to both chambers of the National Assembly for approval and then to the State Assemblies for ratification.”
According to Ekweremadu, among the key electoral reform efforts is a proposed amendment to Section 285 of the Constitution which sets a timeline for the conclusion of pre-election matters.
“The idea is for every pre-election matter to be filed not later than 14 days from the date of the occurrence of the event, decision or action being complained about in the suit.”
He also said that the proposed amendments would empower the Independent National Electoral Commission on (INEC) to de-register political parties that breach registration requirements.
“The proposed amendment would also empower INEC to de-register parties that fail to win at least one of presidential, governorship, local government chairmanship elections or a seat in the National or State Assembly elections”.
He also disclosed that proposed amendment to Section 65 of the Constitution would allow for independent candidacy in order to expand the electorate’s choices.
On local governments, Ekweremadu said that the committees were proposing to strengthen governance at the grassroots by amending Section 7 of the Constitution to properly situate the councils as a third-tier of government of the federation.
“This will help to elaborate provisions for their funding, tenure and election and also to clearly delineate their powers and responsibilities,” he said.
The Deputy President of the Senate explained that the amendment would make for the abolition of the Joint State-Local Government Account and increase autonomy to ensure effective service delivery of the councils.