17 October 2013

Nigeria: National Confab - President in Tune With NASS - Senate

Photo: Vanguard
National Dialogue

The Senate yesterday said that President Goodluck Jonathan was in tune with the Senate's position that the National Assembly is the custodian of Nigeria's sovereignty.

Senate spokesman, Senator Abaribe said in a statement in Abuja that President Jonathan simply stated the obvious when he said that the National Assembly would decide the final outcome of the National Conference. He said the president by that assertion had confirmed the Senate's position that everything that concerns legislation for the people of Nigeria rests with the National Assembly.

"For the President to declare that the final outcome of the proposed National Conference would be subject to National Assembly's ratification is in recognition of the fact that there cannot be two sovereigns at the same time," he said.

The Senate, he added stood by its resolution to welcome national dialogue of any kind, but that in doing that, the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended must be taken into cognisance.

Consequently, the Senate, according to Abaribe welcomed the President's pronouncement and assured that the wishes of Nigerians would always determine the ongoing constitutional review process. He said that the Senate would always welcome whatever would protect the unity of Nigeria.

It would be recalled that President Jonathan had, while receiving guests at the State House on Sallah Day affirmed that the recommendations of the proposed national conference would be forwarded to the National Assembly, to be incorporated in the ongoing constitution review process.

The issue of who the final arbiter would be in the matter had generated doubt in the minds of a cross-section of Nigerians.

The position of the president had perhaps introduced a new dimension to the argument for cynics who believe that the outcome of the confab must be subjected to a national referendum.

The National Assembly, particularly the Senate, had insisted that while it welcomed the national conference, it would not abdicate its constitutional responsibility.

LEADERSHIP had penultimate week exclusively reported that the National Assembly would take the final decision on the outcome of the confab, adding that its failure could lead to a constitutional crisis in the country. The proposal had raised questions about legal backing for the National Conference, since the National Assembly is constitutionally empowered to legislate for the country.

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