BY HENRY UMORU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA — THE Senate yesterday passed the State of the Nation Address Bill, urging President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently sign it into law.
If assented to, the President would then be mandated to deliver to a joint sitting of the National Assembly on the first legislative day of July every year.
The Bill makes it mandatory for the President to address a joint session of the National Assembly not less than six months from the date of enactment of the Appropriation Act by the National Assembly.
Speaking after the Senate adopted the harmonised versions of the bill, Senate President, David Mark, who urged President Jonathan to expedite action on the Bill, said “2013 is the first State of the Nation Address by Mr. President and I hope that he will assent to it as quickly as possible.”
Mark’s appeal came on the heels of harmonisation of differences in the versions of the bill by the Senate and House of Representatives which had affected its passage earlier on March 13, 2013.
Presenting the bill earlier for adoption, Chairman of Conference Committee on the State of the Nation Address Bill, Senator Dahiru Awaisu Kuta, PDP, Niger East, explained that the bill “seeks to make the President accountable to Nigerian people as represented by the National Assembly and to render account of his stewardship to the nation and allow for input from members of the National Assembly towards the good governance of the nation.”
According to him, the Senate had earlier considered and passed the bill on March 13, 2013, after the House of Representatives did a similar thing on December 20, 2011, and forwarded it for concurrence by the Senate.
He added that the Bill was re-introduced by the 7th Senate for consideration and passage, having been denied assent by the President after passage by the 6th Senate.
If assented, the President shall address the joint sitting of the National Assembly on issues ranging from national security, the economy, foreign policy to social Justice.