On Tuesday, the National Assembly approved significant changes aimed at granting full financial and administrative autonomy to all 774 local council authorities throughout Nigeria. This decision involved amending section 124 of the nation’s constitution, paving the way for the local councils to function as a complete third-tier government without unwarranted interference from state governments. The amendment, among 22 others endorsed by the House of Representatives last week, was officially ratified by the Senate during the Tuesday session.
In a collaborative effort, both chambers had previously harmonized their respective amendments into the constitution through a conference committee, finalizing the process initiated the previous month. With this development, the National Assembly formally ratified all 23 clauses and sections that underwent amendments in both chambers. The revised document is now set to be submitted to State Houses of Assembly for approval.
Noteworthy changes include the establishment of the Office of Auditor General of the Local Government and the State Local Government Service Commission. Additionally, the amendment eliminated the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) from the constitution, thereby assigning the responsibility of conducting council elections to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It is crucial to highlight that the immunity clause for the President and Governors has been retained in the constitution. The National Assembly opted for the Senate version of the amendments on this matter, rejecting the House of Representatives’ proposal to remove the immunity clause. Moreover, the National Assembly addressed the prospect of Independent Candidacy in future elections in Nigeria by amending sections 65 and 106 of the 1999 constitution.