From Fred Itua, Abuja
Strong indications have emerged that the National Assembly may override President Muhammadu Buhari, if he fails to sign the ongoing Alteration Bill into law.
The move by the leadership, Daily Sun gathered, is to guide against what transpired in 2015, when former President Goodluck Jonathan vetoed the Alteration Bill, just a few weeks before he left office.
Two members of the Constitution Review Committee from the Senate and the House of Representatives, who are familiar with the development, told Daily Sun that the Assembly was moving fast to ensure the review exercise was concluded on or before June, 2017.
The move, according to the sources, is to give the National Assembly enough time to explore other means to ensure that the review does not end in futility like in the past.
One of the sources said upon resumption, the National Assembly will conclude work on the exercise and send copies to all state Houses of Assembly. He said as soon as the National Assembly gets the nod of state Assemblies, it will commence underground work to mobilise its members against Buhari’s eventual refusal.
He said though the National Assembly has not vetoed the President since the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the sources maintained that the National Assembly was battle-ready to compel the executive to do its bidding.
“I attended a retreat of the committee in Lagos last June and we agreed that we will not allow the President to rubbish what we will do this time. Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, have been told to ensure that this exercise does not end up like previous ones.
“To this end, we have resolved to ensure that we pass this Alteration Bill into law with or without the President. That is why we are avoiding contentious issues that would not get the support of members,” a lawmaker revealed.
In April 2015, few days after he conceded defeat to Buhari, President Jonathan has refused to give assent to some sections of the Constitution Amended by the Seventh National Assembly.
Federal and state lawmakers had approved some sections in the Constitution for amendment and sent the document to the President for his assent. But Jonathan vetoed some of the sections and returned the document to the National Assembly.
Jonathan specifically rejected the Alteration of Section Nine of the Constitution which removes the approval of the President in the process of the amendment.
He also rejected the review which separated the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation from the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General from the Commissioner for Justice in the states.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who doubles as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, while speaking during a retreat on the amendment in Lagos, said since former President Goodluck Jonathan did not sign the Fourth Alteration Bill into law, which strips the President powers to veto any bill, it will be reconsidered and add fresh inputs.
Reacting, spokesman of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, said the National Assembly will present the amendment bill to President Buhari in phases so as to guide against what happened in the past.
He said: “What we are doing is different. In the past, the entire Constitution was amended. That was why the President refused to sign it into law. This time around, we are handling the amendment piecemeal.
“We are doing this to ensure that any particular part of the amendment the President does not like, he can put it aside. We do not want a situation where because of one bad item in the amendment, everything will be thrown away. It is like throwing the baby and the bath water away,” he said.