The Nigerian Senate has on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 expressed concerns over the reasons given by President Goodluck Jonathan for rejecting the amendments to the 1999 Constitution proposed by the House of Assembly.
Speaking via a 7-page letter which was read on the floor of the Upper House by Senate President David Mark, President Jonathan listed a number of points why he vetoed the constitution amendment, with many legislators expressing their displeasure.
Also speaking was Senator Abubakar Yar’Adua (Katsina Central) who raised a point of order insisted on the issue being discussed due to the seriousness of the developments.
Yar’Adua said: “I think it is important for us to discuss that letter and see whether there is need for us to consider the letter or not.
“I think the President has raised very serious fundamental issues, especially in terms of our conscience as lawmakers and his own position as the chief executive officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is why I am raising this point or order.”
Mark on his part agreed with Yar’Adua on the matter of the seriousness of the content of the letter and the need for it to be discussed extensively, but advised that each member of the House to take a copy of the letter home and study.
The Senate President said: “Obviously, this letter is not like any other normal letter. We can’t discuss the letter unless you have a copy of it. So, the first reaction is for me to make copies available to everybody and you go and study it.
“If you notice that there is an announcement also by the Constitution Review Committee that they(members) are going to meet. So, that will straight away go to them. I agree with you that weighty issues have been raised. It’s a peculiar case; so everybody will be involved.”
In the letter, President Jonathan said he would not consent to the proposed amendments because it did not match the requirements of Section 9(3) of the 1999 Constitution.
He also told chastised National Assembly for attempting to reduce some Executive powers of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and give the Executive powers and duties to the Legislature and Judiciary.
The President listed a number of errors with the amendment including but not limited to:
•Non-compliance with the threshold specified in Section 9(3) of the 1999 Constitution on amendments
•Alteration to constitution cannot be valid with mere voice votes unless supported by the votes of not less than four-fifths majority all members of National Assembly and two-thirds of all the 36 State Houses of Assembly.
The Right to free basic education and primary and maternal care services imposed on private institutions
•Flagrant violation of the doctrine of separation of powers
•Unjustified whittling down of the Executive powers of the Federation vested in the President by virtue of Section 5(1) of the 1999 Constitution
• 30 days allowed for assent of the President.