The Senate, last week, unanimously resolved to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on two bills passed by the National Assembly. The affected bills are “the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration No. 28,) Bill, 2018” and “the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) (Amendment) Bill, 2018”. The Fourth Alteration Bill, a constitution amendment, seeks to provide for the time within which the President or Governor shall lay the Appropriation Bill before the National or State Assembly while the Industrial Development Amendment Bill aims to enable companies that expand their operations in pioneer industry or product to apply for a new pioneer status. The decision to override the veto is coming months after Buhari had taken decision on the bills. In this survey by KEHINDE OSASONA, lawyers examined the law to express their views.
NASS can override presidential veto – John Iregbeyen
The law is very clear when it comes to the role of the National Assembly (NASS) and that of the Presidency regarding enactment of law.
The basic fundamental roles of these two arms of government are spelt out in the constitution. So, in a situation where a bill has been passed by NASS and is sent to the president for assent and, having gone through it, what is standard under normal circumstances is for the president to hit hard on grey areas and refer them to the National Assembly for appropriate action.
But in the event of his refusal, or cannot give satisfactory response on why the bill should not be signed, then such action could make the law redundant and thereby making the country un-progressive.
And then, the next thing that ought to be done by the senate having satisfied that the enactment is in the interest of the people, is to go and get it done, bypassing the president. In that case, they veto the president through the required two third majority and it becomes law.
Constitution has defined each arms area of strength, competence and responsibility – Tunde Nordi
Actually, in law-making process, it is the job of the national assembly to enact laws and for the president to assent to it. You know it is bi-cameral legislature that we are operating. Whenever the two wings of the national assembly reach consensus, pass any law, they refer it to the president for his assent.
The president in his own wisdom could decide to withhold the assent. Of course, whenever he does that, he gives explanation as to why he withholds his assent.
The two chambers of the national assembly too can do the needful if they think that withholding of the assent is not in the interest of the people they claim to represent. They could, by two-third majority of the joint houses, override the assent of the president.
Don’t also forget that the constitution has already defined each arm areas of strength, competence and responsibility. So, if they override the president too, they must give reason for doing so.
Again, if they succeed in overriding the president, they might have challenge of implementation. But, if the president feels the overriding is in bad faith and not altruistic, he could refuse to implement it.
But even if NASS went ahead to override the president, how will they implement it? At this point, there must be meeting of interest. At the end of the day, it boils down to the interest of the country.
It takes just two third majority to do that- Umar Saleh
Yes. The constitution has empowered the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to override Mr President on such an important issue. The constitution has provided for them through a two-third majority to override the president in such matter so that they can pass that law.
The act itself is constitutional and is a very clear issue that cannot cause any form of breach. Whatever that is constitutional, we will refer to constitution to solve it.
NASS constitutionally qualifies to act if … – Mohammed Iliasu
It is simple. The constitution has laid down a procedure for doing things in the process of passing a bill. May be from first, second reading to public hearing.
Now the president has 30 days to either assent to it or withhold his assent. It then comes back to the house. If they believe that what he has done is not satisfactory, they now put it into votes via a two-third majority of their numbers, and if they could have the required numbers, they can override the president.
Like I said, if they can muster the required numbers of members to override the president, then they are good to go.
NASS can only exercise their powers under the constitution – Ogalagu Chukwuemeka
Well, I think the whole process is very simple and clear. There are clear powers that are stated in the constitution for the NASS just like the president.
The president can decide to assent a bill or turn it down. There are situations where in the opinion of the National Assembly, the decision of the president not to assent a bill is considered unreasonable and not in accordance with the constitution.
Under such situation, NASS has right to refuse to agree to the non-assent of the president. It is provided for in the constitution. There have been previous instances, like that and all it takes was for the majority in both houses to agree they would override the president.
Unfortunately, party interest and loyalty have frustrated instances where NASS would have come in. Some of the moves in the past did not work out because even though some party men saw that the president action is unreasonable, they often went ahead to align with the party because of party interest, instead of teaming up with their colleagues to override the president.
More importantly, the rights of NASS not to accept the non-assent of the president to a bill is also constitutional, the same way the president has a right not to assent to bill from the national assembly.
Yes, they can override the president and such can be exercised under the constitution to veto the decision of the president.
The president has power to veto, NASS can override – Fidelis Nkwalu
The president has the power of veto. When the president exercises such veto power, the senate can override the president, if they can get a significant majority in their joint sittings which is two-third.
In fact, it is a system of checks and balancing. The president does not make laws, his job is to enforce the law. So, if an elected representative of the people is proposing a law, the president cannot just willingly prevent that law from passing. That’s why that system is there, that’s why you also need two-third.
Legislators are expected to follow procedures in line of duty – Emmanuel Nwosu
In respect to this, let me say clearly here that the National Assembly has a reasonable level of power when it comes to issues like this. Bill can be sent or proposed by the president, NASS members or even members of the public in respect of any subject matter. Then the matter would be treated.
Basically, the aim is to enhance the principle of separation of power. When you now consider this, you will get to see that the rule of separation of power is a very paramount one.
And, when a president makes certain bill without proper consultation of the national assembly, it won’t be constitutional and, if they view such bill as not being in the interest of the general public, they have power to veto the president with reasons.
Again, we should understand that NASS primary role and responsibility is legislation and they are expected to follow procedures in doing that.