The leadership of the House of Representatives on Tuesday affirmed that the Presidency is still working within the 30 days deadline prescribed by the 1999 Constitution to sign the 2017 budget or otherwise.
Section 58(4) provides that “where a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall within 30 days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent,” while Section 58(5) stipulates that “where the President withholds his assent and the bill against passed by each House by two-third majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”
The 30 days deadline elapses on the Sunday, 18th June, 2017.
Pally Iriase, Deputy Majority Leader who spoke on behalf of the House at the pre-2nd year Anniversary of the 8th session of the House of Representatives, explained that the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has not communicated the position of the Executive to the Legislature on any grey areas of the budget.
Iriase however did not disclosed the next step to be taken by the House and indeed the National Assembly at the expiration of the 30 days.
Recall that the harmonised version of the 2017 budget was transmitted by the Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA) to the Presidency for assent on the 19th May, 2017.
He also disclosed that total sum of N35 million was budget for the second anniversary celebration slated for Friday, 9th June, 2017.
While appraising the legislative activities of the House over the past two years, he disclosed that out of the total number of 1,055 bills introduced (first reading), 159 bills have passed through third reading; 500bills are at various stages of consideration while 33 bills were either negatived or withdrawn by the House.
While speaking on the status of major bills before the House, Iriase assured that the House will “focus on passage of all anti-corruption related bills; Petroleum Industry Bill” and Modernisation of the process of Law making towards e-parliament as well as perfected arrangements for electronic voting system to ease the process and ensure more accountability and transparency.
The Edo lawmaker stressed that the House and indeed the National Assembly made a landmark achievement by making public the National Assembly budget for the first time, a feat which the leaders of the previous Assemblies could not achieve.
He explained that the leadership of the House has engaged experts to repair the electronic voting machine with the view to simply its operation.
According to him, the electronic voting system when functional, will help to ease the legislative process, ensure accountability and transparency.
While responding to status of the issues bothering on the suspension of Abdulmumin Jibrin, former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, the Majority Chief Whip noted that making comment will be subjudicial to the case presently before a Court of competent jurisdiction.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja