20 February 2009

Nigeria: Senate Demands Yearly State of the Nation Address

Abuja — Senate yesterday passed into law a Bill that would compel the President of the federal Republic of Nigeria to present the state of nation address before a Joint Session of the National Assembly each year.

This was done during the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Federal Character sponsored by the Deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu.

The report said, "Without Prejudice to the presentation of annual budget speech by the President, the President shall present annually a state of the National Address to the joint sitting of the National Assembly."

"Without Prejudice to the presentation of annual budget speech by the President, the President shall present annually a state of the nation address to the joint sitting of the National Assembly."

The Bill also provides that Mr. President must personally present the address saying, "The President shall not delegate his responsibilities under this Act to any subordinate or aide.

Senate adopted the date for such presentation by Mr. President to take place on the first legislative day of the second week in May of every year.

The Bill further states that "The President shall address the joint sitting aforesaid on such issues including but not limited to national security, the economy, external debt situation, defence, poverty eradication, social justice and observance of the federal character in government appointments, inter-governmental relationships, foreign policy and regional co-operation, education and agricultural policy".

The upper legislative chamber however rejected a provision of the bill which sought to mandate both chambers of the National Assembly to harmonise resolutions reached on the state of nation address with a view to forwarding same to the president.

The Bill requires the two arms of the legislature to debate issues raised during the state of nation address within five days.

It continued, "Bill for an Act to enshrine an annual state of the nation address and other matters connected thereto" now awaits concurrence of the House of Representatives before it is forwarded for presidential assent.

Meanwhile, the 2009 budget for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) passed through second reading yesterday and was sent to the Committee on FCT chaired by Senator Abubakar Danso Sodangi (PDP, Nasarawa West) for further legislative action.

The Bill is seeking to issue N135 billion to the FCT out of which N92 billion is for capital expenditure, N24 billion is proposed for personnel cost while N19 billion is earmarked for overhead costs.

The senate during yesterday's plenary also confirmed Mr. Olumuyiwa Akinboro and Alhaji Mohammed Bala Shagari as members of the FCT Judicial Service Committee.

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