By Brownson Etimbuk
The proclamation by the Edo State Governor, which inaugurated the State Assembly with only nine out of twenty four members, has again exposed a lacunae in the Nigerian Constitution, ConstitutionLab, a civic tech solution aimed at providing Nigerians with a working knowledge of the Constitution, has argued.
A proclamation is an official declaration issued by a person of authority to make certain announcements known. In English law, the source of the majority of Nigerian laws, a proclamation is a formal announcement which the King or Queen in Council (the President or Governor in Nigeria’s case) desires to make known to the subjects (such as the declaration of war, state of emergency, the statement of neutrality, the summoning or dissolution of Parliament).
According to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, SECTION 105 (3) provides that “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the person elected as the Governor of a State shall have power to issue a proclamation for the holding of the first session of the House of Assembly of the State concerned immediately after his being sworn in, or for its dissolution as provided in this section.”
By interpretation, this means that after the election of members of the various legislative houses, lawmakers are not allowed by law to initiate the business of lawmaking and representation of their constituents until the governor gives a directive in that regard.
Note that the directive is practically given by governors after their own swearing-in. On this, ConstitutionLab raises three constitutional concerns: what if a governor decides not to issue a proclamation? What happens in a case where the governor’s tenure doesn’t end for him to be sworn in to enable him to issue a proclamation for a new assembly? Why is there not a particular time frame (say fifteen days after the election) for a proclamation to be issued?
As it is, the Edo State House of Assembly has been thrown into both political and administrative turmoil thanks to the lacunae in the Constitution.
We demand that this section of the Constitution be amended to state, in clear terms, the number of days within which a state governor must issue a proclamation and what will happen in an occasion where the governor doesn’t issue a proclamation.
This is highly needed to prevent a re-occurrence of the situation presently ravaging the Edo State Legislative arm of Government.
Brownson Etimbuk is the TeamLead of ConstitutionLab. ConstitutionLab is a civic Tech solution that seeks to simplify and educate Nigerians on the Constitution. He is a social entrepreneur and a change agent. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org, 09064519745.