The Senate yesterday stood down a bill for an act to provide for the inauguration of the National Assembly to ensure the smooth transfer of legislative power, citing constitutional reasons.
The resolution of the Senate followed the lead debate of the general principles of the bill by the sponsor, Sen. Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North-East) at plenary.
Leading the debate, Suswam said the bill, whose objective was to ensure a smooth transition of legislative powers from the outgoing to the incoming lawmakers, was read for the first time on September 25.
This, he said, was after the dissolution of the previous assembly by the president in the exercise of his powers under Section 64(3) of the constitution.
“Specifically, this bill seeks to ensure clarity and certainty with respect to the day/date for convening and inaugurating the incoming assembly,” he stated.
Seconding the bill, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia North) noted that the Senate could not be inaugurated except by the proclamation of the president.
“Assuming you have a president that refuses to proclaim, how do we sit? This is the issue that we are making sure that we entrench along other good things about democracy.
“It is very good that we continue to entrench democracy,” Abaribe said.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, said the bill was a masterpiece that would moderate proceedings in the red chamber.
“What happened in the eighth and even the ninth Senate, if there had been a bill like this in place, there would have been no need for the issues on inauguration or even the court process that we went through that almost divided us at the period of inauguration.
“The bill is a demonstration that we want to moderate ourselves just as we have laws that regulate agencies as empowered by the constitution,” he said.
Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, said, “In the exercise of the power vested in Section 4, whatever we come with here are acts of the assembly. And when Acts of the assembly are in conflict with specific constitutional provisions, what happens?
“It is for us to make this amendment. It is for us to amend the constitution and not by passing a bill that will be in conflict with the provisions of the constitution.”
But president of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, remarked: “I agree that it is a constitutional matter that we need to resolve.
“This bill, even if signed into law, cannot vitiate Section 64 of the Constitution. I will advice that we toe the path of constitutional amendment to achieve that.”