22 February 2013

Nigeria: Reps Not Afraid to Override Jonathan's Veto On 2013 Budget - Lawmaker

A member of the House of Representatives has said the 2013 budget, which has witnessed bouts of furor in its passage, might be assented to next week.

Zakari Mohammed (PDP-Kwara), who is the Chairman, House of Representatives' Committee on Media and Public Affairs, said this at a news briefing on Thursday in Abuja.

He identified budget roll-over and request by the House for the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to brief the House on a quarterly basis as some of the problems delaying the signing of the budget.

The other, he added, was the benchmark and non-appropriation for the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC.

The House of Representatives has said that while it is not afraid to override President Goodluck Jonathan's veto on the 2013 Appropriation Bill, it will explore and utilize all reconciliatory avenues to override the President's veto.

"We have not shifted grounds in any way over all the issues raised in the budget because they affect Nigerians too.

"We are also not afraid to apply the constitutional provisions. The National Assembly will act at the appropriate time on the issue of overriding the president's veto," he said.

Mr. Mohammed, however, spoke on the need for the House to explore and exhaust all reconciliatory avenues before going ahead to override the President's veto.

Section 58 (4) of the 1999 Constitution allows the president up to 30 days to assent to the appropriation bill or signify the withholding of same, in which case, the budget technically returns to parliament.

If within the 30 days, the president does not exercise his powers over the budget, the National Assembly has the power to recall the budget.

It can then override the president's veto with two-thirds majority of each chamber of the National Assembly.

Mr. Mohammed, however, said the leadership of the National Assembly and the President are interfacing to arrive at a solution on the budget.

"As it stands now, the interface is still ongoing. But if it does not work out, we will adopt another option," he said.


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