Abuja — The Senate yesterday passed into law, a bill compelling President Goodluck Jonathan to present the state of the nation address before the joint session of the National Assembly every year.
If the bill is quickly assented to by the president, its implementation will take off in July this year.
Tagged "A Bill for an Act to enshrine an Annual State of the Nation Address and Other Matters Connected Thereto," the bill among others, authorises the lawmakers to summon the president to address them on state of the nation whenever it is deemed fit.
"The National Assembly shall have powers to regulate its procedure with respect to the provisions of this bill including the procedure for the summoning of the president to address the nation," the law says.
The passage was preceded by the report of Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs, which was unanimously adopted by the committee of the whole House.
The bill which was a product of concurrence between the Senate and the House of Representatives, seeks "to make the president accountable to the Nigerian people as represented by the National Assembly and to render account of his stewardship to the nation and allowing for input from members of the National Assembly towards the good governance of the federation."
According to provisions of the bill, the president shall present annual state of the nation address without prejudice to the annual presentation of the budget.
The bill which rejects delegation of the assignment to another person by the president also stipulates that the address shall be delivered on the first legislative day of July every year, adding that the address shall border on national security, the economy, foreign policy and social justice among other national issues.
Besides, the bill stipulates that if the president fails to give account of his stewardship through the state of the nation's address, he would be summoned by both houses through a resolution supported by two-third majority of votes from each house.
"Where the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria fails, neglects or refuses to render account of his stewardship within the time stipulated by Section 1 of this bill, the National Assembly may by resolution supported by two-third majority votes of members of each House of the National Assembly to summon the president to address the nation pursuant to provisions of this bill," the law says.
It also stipulates that after the president's address, the two houses of the National Assembly shall separately deliberate on issuesraised in the address within 14 days of the presentation.
Further, the law provides that the resolution of the National Assembly arising from the debate shall be communicated to the president within 60 days from the date of the address. It also provides that the National Assembly shall have powers to regulate its procedure as regards the provision of this bill including the procedure for summoning the president to address the state of the nation.
The State of the Nation Address Bill was first introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively in 2008 and 2009 but legislation on the bills was not concluded before the end of the sixth National Assembly.
Following the recent House move to refer the bill to the Senate for concurrent legislation, the bills from both houses were consolidated before yesterday's passage.