From Fred Itua, Abuja
The National Assembly (NASS) is to engage the executive arm of government in a bid to get President Muhammadu Buhari assent to 19 alteration bills.
Its chairman and Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, made the disclosure at the resumption of plenary, yesterday, following the conclusion of the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.
Buhari had on March 17 signed into law 16 constitutional amendment bills out of the 35 bills transmitted to him on January 24.
The most popular of the assented 16 bills being the fifth alteration bill number 6 which makes provisions for financial independence of state Houses of Assembly and the judiciary.
Others are those bordering on power devolutions in the areas of moving railway services, correctional centers and power generation and distribution from the exclusive list to concurrent list.
Lawan, however, said the 19 bills were not assented to by the President and that these would be pursued vigorously by both chambers of the National Assembly for the president’s assent.
Among the 19 bills not signed by the president included the fifth alteration bill number 24, that sought for an Act to alter the second schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to empower the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly to summon the President and governors to answer questions on issues which the national and state Houses of Assembly have the powers to make.
“Alteration bill number 7 which sought for an Act to alter the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, to compel persons to obey or comply with legislative summons, was refused assent by the president.”
The senate president listed the 16 bills signed by the president to include the fifth alteration Bill Number 3 “To change the name Afikpo North and Afikpo South Local Government Areas and for Related Matters.”
Lawan said the bill which dealt with financial independence of state Houses of Assembly and state judiciary were critical for the development of democracy in Nigeria and for good governance also.
“I believe that the president acted very wisely on this by signing the bill. This is because, just like we have financial independence here at the national level, our state legislatures should enjoy similar independence. And of course when the judiciary does not enjoy financial independence, you can imagine what will happen. We believe that the judiciary should be financially independent just like the federal judiciary because it gives them that power, that authority that without fear or favour, they can make their judgment and conduct their affairs,” Lawan said.