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Nigeria’s parliament votes on constitutional amendments

NIGERIA’S PARLIAMENT VOTES ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

Nigeria's parliament began a clause-by-clause voting on 33 constitutional amendment bills on Wednesday to modify the country's criticized constitution, originally authored by the army.

"Today, we will commence voting on the constitutional amendment bills," the country's 360-member House House of Representatives tweeted early Wednesday.

In parallel, voting has also begun in the 109-member senate where lawmakers have now voted in favor of independent candidature, 35 percent affirmation action for women in government appointments, reduction of age qualification for public office and immunity for lawmakers over their speeches within parliament.

A controversial provision stripping the president of assent of future constitutional amendments has also passed in the Senate.

Critics of the process say the proposed amendments are not wide-ranging enough to address the shortcomings of the 1999 constitution, while others claim that some of the new provisions are self-serving, especially the one seeking immunity for legislators.

Bisi Akande, elder statesman and former chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), dismissed the process as a waste of time.

"The 1999 constitution can never be beneficially reviewed and the ongoing piecemeal adjustments or amendments can only totally blot the essence of national values and accelerate the de-amalgamation of Nigeria," according to Akande.

"All the angels coming from heavens cannot make that constitution work for the progress of Nigeria. It should only be scrapped as bad relics of military mentality; and it ought to be temporarily replaced with the 1963 Republican Constitution to enable a transition for the writing of a suitable constitution," he added.

The constitutional review requires two-thirds majority of both chambers of the national assembly to pass. The bills would again require the support of two thirds of legislative houses across the country's 36 states before the amendments are then forwarded to the president for assent.

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