Reps Prepare To Override Jonathan’s Assent Of 36 Bills



Teddy Oscar, Abuja


The House of Representatives is set to override President Goodluck Jonathan’s power to assent to bills, as it mandated its Committee on Rules and Business to review the 36 bills that were passed and transmitted to President Goodluck Jonathan to assent or withheld assent to by the National Assembly with a view to ascertaining those that can be made law.


This was the outcome of the adoption of a motion brought by Hon. Yakubu Dogara on the ‘need for both houses of National Assembly to activate their constitutional powers under Section 58 (1) (g) of the 1999 constitution in relation to bills over which the president has failed to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and powers under Section 58 (1) (4)’.


Dogara noted that Section 58 (1) (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) requires that all bills passed by the two houses of the National Assembly be transmitted to the President for assent, adding that a total of 36 bills have been transmitted to the President for assent, which are still pending or left to stagnate in his office without exercising his constitutional powers.


“Allowing the bills to stagnate without any indication from the President as to whether he assents or withholds assent is a manifest violation of the provision of section 58 (1) (4) of the Constitution, which makes it mandatory for the President to within thirty days of the presentation of such bills to him, signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.


“The refusal by the President to perform his constitutional responsibilities and powers under Section 58(1)(4) of the Constitution have denied the public the benefits of new legislations as they continue to struggle with obsolete laws.


“If nothing is done to check this violation of the Constitution, the 7th Assembly would be the only assembly, since the advent of democracy, with the inglorious history of not successfully translating most of its bills into law,” he observed.


The motion did not go without oppositions from Simon Arabo and Kingsley Chinda, who argued that since the President has not written officially to the National Assembly to convey his refusal to assent, no action should be taken yet.


Hon. Albert Sam-Tsokwa, chairman, Committee on Rules and Business, however, explained that there was no need to activate the said provisions because it has never been inactive.


In the end, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, speaker, ruled that the Committee on Rules and Business should review the bills, and ascertain which of them requires overriding of assent.


“Some of the bills that were read by Dogara were actually passed by the 6th Assembly. Therefore, we have to determine the position of the law on such bills because some have been re-introduced. This motion at best I can clearly say is a wakeup call to both the President and the National Assembly. If there is anything that the President has not done, he should wake up and, if there is anything that we have failed to do, we should do the needful,” the speaker summarised.



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