Nairametrics| The two chambers of the National Assembly have respectively disclosed their anger at the refusal of Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo to append his assent to four bills sent to the Executive from the legislature. To them, this amounts to a direct intrusion on their functions as the law-making arm of government.
The four bills under question are the Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund, Currency Conversion Act (Freezing Orders), Lottery Amendment Bill and the Dangerous Drug Amendment Bill. The Acting President had refused assent to these bills citing his reasons for doing so. His reasons ranged from “the existence of pending legal challenge to the competence of the National Assembly to legislate on the subject matter” (for the Lottery Bill) to “certain words and phrases that might be inconsistent with the spirit behind the amendment” (Dangerous Drug Amendment Bill).
The lawmakers were however not pleased with this and they made their displeasure known, noting that they were ready to pass the bills with or without Presidential assent.
“The role of the executive is to carry out their traditional role by signing any bill passed by the National Assembly,” Melaye claimed, insisting that the action of the acting president, if allowed to stand, would constitute a grave danger to democracy in the country and undermine the powers of the parliament.” Senator Dino Melaye argued.
A similar reaction was observed at the House of Representatives where he Speaker, Yakubu Dogara who informed his colleagues of the refusal by the acting president to assent to the bills.
The stand of the law regarding the matter is rather clear with the law stipulating that the National Assembly can go on to pass a bill into law after the refusal of the President to assent the bill as long as two-thirds of the Parliament voted for its passage.
Section 58 of the constitution 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. 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.”
The question to note however is how the National Assembly views the matter. Although one of the major foundations of democracy is the separation of powers, if the National Assembly passes bills into laws just to demonstrate their power, it does not bode well for the nation. Just as the leadership of both chambers noted, it would be wise to look into the objections raised and address them adequately, if necessary, to avoid passage of porous bills into law. So, in the end, it boils down to this: How will the National Assembly view this- as a war cry or as constructive criticism?[/read]