Senate Panel Okays Cabinet Origination Within 30 Days


The Senate Constitution Review Committee has approve a proposal that will compel the President to form his cabinet within 30 days of assumption of office.

Governors are also to be mandated to form the Executive Council within the same time frame.

These are part of the proposals voted on yesterday by Committee members.

They will form part of the recommendations for the Senate’s approval during the clause-by-clause consideration of the proposal for review in the Constitution as submitted by the committee.

Sources said last night that the committee members voted on these issues yesterday.

Other major issues decided upon include: making it mandatory for the President to make an annual state of the nation address to Nigerians before a joint sitting of the National Assembly, reservation of 10 per cent slots for women in the cabinet and other appointments and fixing of specific time for the proclamation of the National Assembly by the President.

It is not uncommon for the President and governors to wait for a long time to form the executive council (see box).

It was a major victory for women with the recommendation that “not less than 10 per cent of cabinet and other appointments should be conceded to women”.

A source said an early formation of cabinet will enable elected leaders to hit the ground running.

It was learnt that the committee took the decision to stop recourse to autocracy and executive recklessness.

The source added: “This will lead to the amendment of Sections 147 and 192 of the 1999 Constitution.

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“The Executive arm at federal and state levels has abused these sections of the constitution.

“They said in a democracy of which its dividends should be quick win, the country or a state cannot wait for six months to have a cabinet or an executive council.

“They claimed that this amendment will enable a president-elect a governor-elect to work ahead.”

One of the principal officers was quoted as saying: “We opted for cabinet formation timeline to bring our democracy up to speed with contemporaries in the world.”

On the State of the Nation address, the source said: “The Senators have resolved a fundamental problem on whether the National Assembly can invite the President to address it on any national issue.

“It will be compulsory for a, sitting President to present a State of the Nation address to the National Assembly on commencement day of each legislative year. If this amendment passes.”

The committee also endorsed a proposal to make the President to “issue the proclamation for the inauguration of the National Assembly on the Tuesday after inauguration on May 29.

“If May 29 falls on Monday and the President is sworn in on the same day, the President will issue the proclamation for the inauguration of the National Assembly the next day (Tuesday), the source explained.

It was unclear last night if the House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Review will concur with the Senate Committee on these recommendations.

Another principal officer said: “I don’t think there will be fundamental changes from the House Committee because we have been talking on how to enrich and sustain our democracy. We want Nigeria’s democracy to work and our job is to reduce some bottlenecks.

“For instance, it should not be a legal matter for the President to address the nation when there are challenges. We have subjected the propriety of this duty to legal and political considerations to the extent that it almost consumed one of our leaders.”

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