The Chairman Senate Committee, Business and Rules, Sen. Sadiq Umar, said action by the Senate to override President Muhammadu Buhari on Electoral Bill would have been meaningless without a corresponding decision from the House of Reps.
Umar gave further insight into why Senate stood down decision to override President Mohammadu Buhari’s veto on Electoral Amendment Bill earlier in the week on Friday in Ilorin.
Sen Umar spoke at the ‘News Keg’, a platform organised by the Correspondent Chapel, of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Kwara Council, where top personalities in politics, business and academia are brought to shed light on topical issues.
Sen Umar said that the upper house was poised on overiding the President’s veto but learnt that the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had put off decisions on the matter till January.
President Buhari had returned the bill to the National Assembly with explanatory note to both chambers explaining why he couldn’t sign the bill into law.
There had been furious backlashes from the public and across parties.
It what appears to be a tepid response from the lawmakers, public ire had equally turned to them.
But explaining the Senate’s angle on the matter, Sen Umar said that their decision was strategic.
“We did not make a U-turn on the proposed law as some might want to believe.
“Our actions on the bill was a well thought out one.
“We consulted widely on the bill and made sure we carried stakeholders along so we are ready to take the matter to the next level.
“We are not convinced by the president’s myriad of reasons why he couldn’t sign the bill into law.
“But while we were debating the matter the House of Reps did not do so.
“We learnt that the matter had been put off till next year to allow tempers to cool and make for further meaningful consultations.
“If we had gone ahead to override the president on the matter, it would have been of no effect, null and void.
“The House of Reps needed to back us for it to become law if we choose to override the president’s veto.
“Standing down on the matter was purely strategic and has nothing to do with making any U-turn,” the senator said.
He further used the platform to clear the air on a prevailing perception of the 9th Assembly being more of a rubber stamp for the executive.
Speaking on this Sen Umar said that it’s duties principally was to make laws, engage in oversight functions and to check the executive.
“But all these can be achieved without rancour.
He reminded the journalists at the forum that there has been instances in the past where the Senate disagreed with the President.
One instance was given as that concerning the screening of Lauretta Onochie, former special assistant to the president as commissioner with Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The Senator claimed that they had to reach out to the president that she wasn’t a good choice for the position.
“We stood our ground on the matter but we sought a creative way of doing so without creating controversy,” he said.
Edited by Felix Ajide