Senator defends Jonathan’s rejection of Constitution Amendment

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Ita Enang, has described President Goodluck Jonathan’s refusal to sign the 2015 round of Constitution Amendment Bill as another act of “statesmanship”.

Mr. Enang said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.

He said in spite of the fact that the president’s tenure would end soon, he was magnanimous to point out some anomalies in the bill that necessitated him to withhold his assent.

“Let me for one thing alone, congratulate and appreciate President Goodluck Jonathan. He did not say I am not going to be the President in the next 30 days, let me just assent to it.

“He did not say whatever problem there is, let it be a problem that the Buhari administration will come to face.
“I commend him because he would ordinarily have signed it and say `I wash my hands off’ like Pilate.

“He still puts his thoughts together and said `this I refuse to do on these accounts’.

“To that extent, I commend his honesty, I commend his statesmanship,” he said.

However, Mr. Enang observed that the observations made by the President were coming late as the National Assembly had already passed the bill.

He said that aides of the President ought to have pointed out the observations for amendment at the point of the public hearings.

“At this stage, we have gone through public hearing at different stages and this is a bill that passed through the National Assembly for three years.

“When we had the public hearings, those making these observations did not appear.

“The President did not need to appear but the Attorney-General, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Accountant-General and all the other institutions ought to have appeared,’’ said the lawmaker.

He said in view of the development, the National Assembly would hold close consultations with the President, to look at the observations made and vote on some of them.

The National Assembly on Thursday received a letter from the President, stating his refusal to assent to the Fourth Alteration Bill, 2015, due to some contentious issues.

One of the contentious issues is contained in Section 45 A of the bill.

It guarantees the right to free basic education, which according to the letter is too open ended and should be restricted to government schools.

The president also said a section stipulating the right to free health should indicate that such privilege is available only at government facilities.

The president said some proposals by the Senate and the House of Representatives were clear violation of the doctrine of Separation of Powers.


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