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Senate Inches One Step Closer To Passing Bill Overruling Buhari’s Veto On Budget

A bill to compel the President and state governors to lay their annual budgets before the legislature at most 90 days to end of a fiscal year has passed second reading at the Senate.

The second reading of the bill is the second stage of process. If the bill passes the third reading with the required by two-thirds majority, and it gets the concurrence of the House of Representatives, then it becomes a law.

The bill, The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (Fourth Alteration, No. 28) Bill, was sponsored by Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, and was presented at plenary by Ahmad Lawan, Majority Leader of the Senate.

Rejected by the President in 2018, the bill, if passed, will return Nigeria to the era of January-December budget cycles, while similarly mandating the National Assembly to pass the budget before commencement of the next financial year.

Buhari had declined assent to the bill on the grounds that Section 2 (b) and 3 (b) of the proposal appears not to appreciate the provisions of Section 58 (4) of the 1999 constitution — an argument dismissed by David Umaru, Chairman of the Senate’s Technical Committee on Declined Assent to Bills.

The bill will ensure that the budget is laid not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year,” Umaru said. 

“The legislative intent behind this bill is to ensure that we run a normal financial year. Therefore, the provision of Section 58(4) which Mr. President made reference to, does not apply in this regard.

“On the whole, we respectfully submit that the bill is not in conflict with the provision of Section 58(4) of the Constitution as implied by Mr President. It is, therefore, our concerted view that the Senate should override Mr. President’s veto.”

Section 58(4) of the Constitution being spoken of by the President reads: “Where a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall within thirty days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.”

However, Section 58(5) also adds: “Where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”

As earlier reported by SaharaReporters, the Senate on Wednesday passed seven of the at least 16 bills rejected so far this year by the President.

The bills are the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Bill, National Research and Innovation Council Bill, Stamp Duties Act (Amendment) Bill, National Agricultural Seed Council Bill, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill.

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