23 November 2012

Nigeria: Presidential Media Chat Unconstitutional - Senate

Photo: Leadership
President Goodluck Jonathan

The Senate says it is unconstitutional for President Goodluck Jonathan to address Nigerians through a media chat, asking him to come to the National Assembly to do so.

Senators unanimously took this position yesterday during the second reading of a bill, sponsored by Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba, for an Act to provide for the State of the Nation Address by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The bill read in part: "The president shall, not later than six months from the date of enactment of the Appropriation Act by the National Assembly, address a joint session of the National Assembly on the state of the nation on such issues including but not limited to national security, the economy, budget performance, foreign policy and social justice. Where the president fails, neglects or refuses to render the state of the nation address within the stipulated time, the National Assembly may by resolution supported by two-third majority votes of members of each House of the National Assembly, summon the president to do so. The president's address shall be debated by the National Assembly and its resolution shall be communicated to the president within 60 days from the date of such address."

In their contributions, Senators Uche Chukwumerije (PDP, Abia), Ganiyu Solomon (ACN, Lagos), Victor Lar (PDP, Plateau), Babajide Omoworare (ACN, Osun), Aloysius Etok (PDP, Akwa Ibom), Kabiru Gaya (ANPP, Kano) and Magnus Abe (PDP, Rivers) said the state of the nation address is the most worthwhile thing for any elected president as it would deepen democracy and ensure transparency in governance.

They said addressing Nigerians through a television chat, like Jonathan did on Sunday, has no legal basis.

Deputy President Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, noted that the bill was passed during the last Assembly, but Jonathan refused to sign it.

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