1999 Constitution Review: Presidential assent unnecessary— Saraki

1999 Constitution

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said presidential assent is an unnecessary addition to the process of amendment of the organic laws of the land, the 1999 Constitution.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that it was with conviction on that that the eighth National Assembly approved the removal of presidential assent to an amended constitution.

The seventh assembly had in 2015, while reviewing the 1999 Constitution, approved the removal of presidential assent from the process of the amendment.

But, the then president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, refused assent to the amendment because of the removal of the clause contained in Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution.

Jonathan had insisted that the amendment would have been valid if supported by votes of not less than four-fifth majority of all the members of each chamber of the National Assembly.

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In addition, he said that it also ought to have been approved by a resolution of the House of Assembly of not less than two-thirds of all the states as provided by Section 9 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.

However, Saraki said going by the process of amending the Constitution, the final decision of federal and state legislatures should be seen as the decision of the people.

“Well, to me, if two-thirds of the National Assembly agrees to something and two-thirds of the state assemblies also agree, in my view, the president should accept that as the wish of the people.

“Does he really need to assent? Personally, I don’t think so; that is my personal view, because with two-third of National Assembly, two-third of states’ assemblies, the people have spoken,” he said.

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Saraki added that the senate would follow up on the amendment process in the states to ensure that there was wide consultation and sensitisation.

Saraki said the eighth Senate surmounted the turbulence that characterised its affairs due to cooperation and unity among the members.

He recalled that the crisis in the red chamber began immediately after its inauguration, with his emergence as president of the senate, and Ike Ekweremadu, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member, as his deputy.

He said in spite of the crisis, the senate had recorded unprecedented success

He added that though president, he was only “first among equals’’ and as such, he ensured that every member of the chamber was carried along in all the plans of the senate.

He said in spite of the distractions from court cases and wanton allegations, the senate ensured that it remained focused on the agenda it drafted and prepared for itself.