ELECTORAL BILL: NASS Has Constitutional Right To Override President Says Rep. Onuigbo
The member representing Ikwuano/ Umuahia North and South Federal
Constituency, Rep. Sam Onuigbo has reminded that section 58 of the constitution provides for the National Assembly to override the President “if he or she denies assent to a Bill passed by the National Assembly”.
This is following the recent decision of President Mohammadu Buhari to withhold assent to the Electoral Act Bill Amendment.
Speaking in an interview, Rep. Onuigbo argued that the passage of any Bill must have the input of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
According to the Legislator, there must be consultations between the two chambers, hence National Assembly and Senate before any decision could be made in that regard.
Hear him: “Both chambers of the National Assembly are abiding by the provisions of the constitution. Because for you to pass a Bill, it must have the input of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Assuming the Senate had gone ahead to override the President and the House comes back in January and does not agree with that, it would have been an exercise in futility. There must be consultations between the two chambers before a decision is taken. The options before the legislators with the President withholding assent, is to run consultations.
“As you know, section 58 of the constitution also provides for the National Assembly to override the President if he or she denies assent to a Bill passed by the National Assembly. Unfortunately, this happened very close to the festive season and and we had to go on recess. However, this has afforded us the opportunity to use this time to go back to our constituents who elected us, and then make a final decision, when we return, based on the position of our constituents.
“I was part of the Joint Technical Committee of the National Assembly that was called back very early this year and we worked hard on this Bill and submitted it to the National Assembly. Unfortunately, there were several events that delayed the passage of this important piece of legislation.”
“Personally, I feel disappointed considering the effort we made as members of the Joint Technical Committee. What was finally passed represents the position of the National Assembly in consultation with even INEC and the Civil Society. You are currently gauging the mood of the nation and so, you know how the people feel about this decision by the President.”
Reacting to the President’s statement as regards the cost involved in conducting direct primaries, Onuigbo has this to say:
“The cost of conducting the election being high, or the cost of misgovernance due to election of bad and incompetent leaders? The idea behind direct primaries is to allow those who employ politicians– the electorates– to have a say in deciding who political parties present for elections and by so doing, better candidates emerge. For me, that is better.