The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration, No. 28) Bill to mandate the President and governor of a state to lay annual budget 90 days to end of a fiscal year has passed second reading in the Senate.
This followed the presentation of the bill, which was sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and presented at plenary by Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.
The bill is meant to ensure that Nigeria reverts to the January to December budget cycle.
The bill, which was rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018, seeks to amend the 1999 Constitution by making it mandatory for the President and Governor of a state to lay the annual budget estimates before parliament three months to the end of a financial year.
It also mandates the National Assembly to pass the budget before commencement of the next financial year.
President Buhari declined assent to the constitution amendment bill on the grounds that Section 2 (b) and 3 (b) of the proposal appeared not to take full cognisance of the provisions of Section 58 (4) of the 1999 constitution.
However, the Technical Committee on Declined Assent to Bills chaired by Senator David Umaru said the bill was not in conflict with the constitution as put forward by the President.
Umaru said the bill would ensure that the budget is “laid not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year.
“The legislative intent behind this bill is to ensure that we run a normal financial year.
“Therefore, the provision of section 58(4), which Mr. President made reference to, does not apply in this regard.
“On the whole, we respectfully submit that the bill is not in conflict with the provision of Section 58(4) of the Constitution as implied by Mr. President.
“It is, therefore, our concerted view that the Senate should override Mr. President’s veto.”
Meanwhile, five other constitution amendment bills earlier rejected by the President have also passed second reading.
They are: The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 8) Bill, 2018; Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 15) Bill, 2018; and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 20) Bill, 2018.
Others are: Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No.22) Bill, 2018; and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 24) Bill.
The President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakafr Bukola Saraki, referred all bills to the Committee on Constitutional Review, with no time-frame for submission of the reports.
Unlike the budget timeline bill, which will not require presidential assent if it scales through in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the five other bills will be re-presented to the President for assent if approved by the National Assembly.
Section 58 (5) of the 1999 Constitution provides that two-third of both legislative chambers of the National Assembly (73 senators and 240 members of House of Representatives) are required to override the President’s veto.