A last-minute clash between the executive and the legislature is looming in the about-to-expire life of the current political dispensation, as the Senate has resolved to overrule President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on two bills.
The two bills in question 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.
The first bill seeks to mandate the President and state governors to present annual budget estimates before legislature at most three months to the end of a financial year. It also seeks to encourage early presentation and passage of Appropriation Bills.
Buhari declined assent to the bill on the argument that it did not take cognizance of the provisions of Section 58(4) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Meanwhile, the Industrial Development Amendment Bill 2018 aims to enable companies that expand their operations in pioneer industry or product to apply for a new pioneer status. The President declined assent to the bill on the argument that ongoing inter-ministerial consultations would be affected if the bill is signed into law.
The Senate took the decision to overrule the President on Wednesday after its Technical Committee on Declined Assent to Bills by the President present its report, which was adopted.
Dabid Umaru, Chairman of the committee, had told the upper chamber that his panel scrutinised the 17 bills, and came to the recommendation that 15 of them should be reconsidered and passed by the National Assembly.
The bills are National Research and Innovation Council (Establishment) Bill, 2017; National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (Establishment) Bill, 2018; National Agricultural Seeds Council, 2018 and Subsidiary Legislation (Legislative Scrutiny) Bill, 2018.
Others are Stamp Duties (Amendment) Bill, 2018; Chattered Institute of Entrepreneurship (Establishment) Bill, 2018; Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) (Amendment) Bill, 2018; Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
The remaining five are constitutional amendment bills, namely bills No. 8, 15, 22, 24, and 28.
“The National Assembly even if it considers Mr. President’s observations or not, must pass the bills again and be assented to by Mr. President or override the veto, in which case, Mr. President’s assent would not be required,” said Umaru, who argued that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) gives the Senate the right to override the President in the event that a bill is vetoed.
In 2019 alone, the President has vetoed at least 15 bills passed by the National Assembly.
To override the President, the Senate needs at least two-thirds majority, which is at least 73 senators, to endorse the action.