Senator representing Kwara North and chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Sadiq Umar, has explained why the Senate backed down from overriding President Muhammadu Buhari on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
Umar, who was a guest at the media parley organised by the Correspodents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kwara State chapter, said the lawmakers only exercised restraints to avoid plunging the country into a constitutional crisis.
He insisted that the Senators did not do a u-turn on the issue but were forced by the decision of the House of Representatives to stand down the debate on the President’s letter.
He said: “What happened was that after the National Assembly passed the Electoral Act, the president wrote back to us giving reasons why he could not assent to it.We believe some of the reasons, some we don’t, others we are confused and doubting.
“For the Senate, we were ready to override and there was a debate where we struggled on this. But while that was going on, the House of Representatives unfortunately did not address the president’s letter. They felt it was a hot matter that needed more consultations and engagement and kept it in abeyance to pass the budget with a plan to return to it after coming back from the holiday when they would have engaged with their constituents.
“For us, we were preparing to do what we wanted to do but given our rules and constitutional provision, even if we eventually overrule the president in the Senate, it would have been null and void becuase there has to be concurrence between the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“So the Senators also buy into the decision of the green chamber to continue consultations with our people so that when we resume, we will do what the people want us to do or what we have seen is the best for Nigeria. Our action was a strategic decision to avoid constitutional crisis.”
Senator Umar, who denied that the Senate was a rubber stamp to the executive arm of the government, justified the approvals of all the loan requests by the president.
“The popular saying is that Nigeria is very rich, but that saying is erroneous when you juxtapose it with our revenue and population. The amount of money we need to revamp the education sector alone, the whole money available to government cannot do it and same thing goes for all other sectors like health and infrastructure, among others.
“The bitter truth is that the country cannot do a single infrastructure without taking loans now becuase of revenue constraints,” the lawmaker explained.