Civil Society Organisations from different States of the Federation and the FCT Abuja met at Ibeto Hotel, Abuja on Monday 11th December 2017 to continue dialogue on the Constitution Alteration Bills passed by the National Assembly which have been transmitted to the State Houses of Assembly for deliberation and passage. The meeting was organized by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, (PLAC) with support from the British Department for International Development, (DFID).
Some of the issues covered by the Constitution Amendment Bills include:
- Reducing the period within which the President or Governor may authorize withdrawal of funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the absence of an Appropriation Act from 6 months to 3 months
- Providing for funding of the House of Assembly of States directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State
- Nullifying State Joint Local Government Accounts and empowering each Local Government Council to maintain a special account
- Strengthening local government administration in Nigeria
- KEY OBSERVATIONS
The following observations were raised at the meeting:
- Poor Timing, lack of citizens’ ownership, politics and poor planning had hindered successful constitutional review exercises in the past.
- The media are not being effectively engaged at the State levels to create awareness and build support.
- Messages across states were not uniform.
- It is expected that there will be resistance from the Executive on some Bills.
- CSOs have not been strategic enough in engaging the State Legislature and relevant stakeholders.
The CSOs resolved as follows:
- To collaborate for the adoption, passage and assent to the Bills;
- To engage the advocacy process creatively and beyond the usual traditional norms;
- To change the narrative of Constitution Alteration to one of accountability, transparency and the need for good governance;
- To engage “change champions” particularly at the state level and create a win-win situation between the Executive and the Legislature;
- To continue engagement in advocacy, meetings, visits and consultations with key State Houses of Assembly members and other stakeholders
- CSOs should engage the process as quickly as possible as State Houses of Assembly will be expected to vote on the Bills before going on recess this December.
- 4. RECOMMENDATIONS
- CSOs need to prioritize the Bills and build advocacy around them.
- There is need for CSOs to have a common position on the Bills.
- CSOs need to be proactive in engaging State Legislatures and other stakeholders.
- CSOs should be more strategic in their engagement on the Bills.
- CSOs need to effectively engage the media in its advocacy efforts.