By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- FOLLOWING President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the new amendment to the Electoral Act, which seeks to re-order the sequence of the polls during general elections, strong indications emerged yesterday that Senators have begun moves to override his veto.
It was gathered yesterday that lawmakers from both the House of Representatives and the Senate have commenced the process of getting members to actualize it, just as they have however vowed to get the two- third majority required to override the president.
Before the letter from the President was read by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate had moved into an executive session at 11.04am and resumed its plenary at 11.35am.
Senate President Bukola Saraki reported at the end of the executive session that the Senate deliberated on the workings of the upper chamber, the National Assembly and CBN.
But Vanguard gathered that at the closed session of the Senators, the matter of the vetoed bill came up, but was not discussed exhaustively.
A source at the executive session disclosed that Senate President Saraki alerted his colleagues that the bill had been rejected by the President and that the senate would need to take another look at the bill, just as the senators were said to have resolved to get further clarifications from the Legal Department of the National Assembly before going ahead with the planned override of the veto.
Meanwhile, it was also gathered that no fewer than 65 Senators have signed up to join in the battle to override the president’s veto, just as 43 Senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are said to be solidly backing the decision to override the veto while so far 22 Senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are said to be
supporting the idea.
The source said, We are seeking like nine members to join the race so that we can get the required 73 Senators needed to override the veto.”
It was also gathered that Senators who are loyal to the Senate President have decided to bring back the rested Senators of Like Minds, which projected the Senate President for the position in 2015.
A source said that originally, members of the Like Minds are in excess of 35 senators, but that a number of lawmakers were sitting on the fence, even as it was also gathered that of the 24 Senators who constituted the Senate Unity Forum (SUF), some are also sitting on the fence, thus making the task of to be difficult at the moment for the APC.
According to the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly requires two- third before it can override the presidential veto.
Section 58 (4 & 5) of the 1999 Constitution provide the procedures by which the National Assembly may override the veto where a President withholds assent to a bill passed by both chambers.
Section 58 (4) reads: “Where a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall within thirty days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.
Section 58 (5) also reads: “Where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”
Meanwhile, the immediate past Chairman of Northern Senators Caucus and former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, APC Nasarawa West, yesterday declared that the rumored suspension allegedly being planned against him by the Senate leadership , if eventually carried out , would amount to abuse of power
In a statement yesterday in Abuja which he made available to Journalists, Senator Adamu said that the alleged plan against him and other subtle attacks that had been made on him, would not in anyway deter him from remaining loyal to the ruling party , the All Progressives Congress ( APC) and fight its enemies on the floor of the Senate
He said, “I have heard what I consider to be rumours to the effect that the senate plans to suspend me. I hope it is a mere rumour bandied about in the current climate of mutual recrimination.
“However, I would not be surprised if such an extreme form of punishment is being contemplated by the senate leadership.
” I would caution against the decision, if indeed such a decision is on the cards, to suspend me because it would serve no purpose other than to demonstrate the exercise of power in a manner that results in its abuse.
“If the intention is to gag me or intimidate me, I am afraid it would not be worth the effort. Neither adversary nor adversity can force me to abandon my resolve as a matter of personal honour and principle to always speak the truth and defend the truth. It is not in my nature to see what I consider to be wrong and either keep quiet or pretend that it is not my concern. Whatever affects the interests of this administration is my concern because as a senator and as a member of the ruling party, I am but a servant of the APC brought into power on the consent of the good people of this country who expect the government to serve, protect and defend their interests.”
Adamu who chronicled his alleged offence against some forces in the senate to be when he stood up on the floor few weeks back to caution against running the government led by President Muhammadu Buhari down, kicked against new sequence of elections inserted into the electoral act amendment bill along with some other senators etc , said the voice of dissent he offered at such instances, are democratically and constitutionally allowed.
According to him, shutting out such dissenting voice would inflict irreparable damage to the Parliament and by extension , the nation’s democracy, adding, “The day we snuff out the right of dissent in and outside the senate legislative chambers would mark the beginning of our loss of individual and collective rights as Nigerian citizens. May such a day never come.”
He explained further that all allegations leveled against him so far with regard to destabilisation plot against the Senate and its leadership were barefaced lies , saying ” to achieve what and for what purpose ?
He however said as a Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria , his loyalty to the Senate as an Institution would remain intact regardless of whatever his antagonists in the senate do at the end of the day.
The statement reads in part:” The public is aware that I have been the subject of vilifications by both the leadership and my distinguished colleagues in the 8th senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the past three weeks or so.
” Various attempts have been made, and are still being made, to impugn my integrity and question my support for the leadership of the senate and my loyalty to the senate.
“Good, I have thus far refrained from a press war in defence of myself because I am fully aware that a press warfare resolves nothing. In all wars, including a press war, the truth suffers; the public becomes less informed and more confused about the facts and the issues at stake.
” I have taken some necessary steps within the confines of the senate to defend myself and re-assure my distinguished colleagues that I remain unshaken in my commitment and faithful to my oath as a legislator on whom the constitution imposes the burden of making laws for the good governance of our dear country.
“I am now forced to respond to some of the barefaced lies and the nasty allegations against me because the public has the right to know the facts. My objective is to properly educate the public on my ‘crime’ or ‘crimes.’ It is important for the public to know that I have committed no crime against the senate and/or its leadership.
” I have done nothing to bring the revered upper legislative house to ridicule intentionally or inadvertently.
” I am in the senate primarily to represent the interest of my people in the South-Western senatorial district of Nasarawa State. My voice is the voice of my people; my stand on critical national issues that agitate us is the stand of my people. To suspend me on the basis of baseless allegations that do not amount to the infraction of senate rules, is to deny them my voice and my representation.
” The power to suspend a senator be exercised with a grave sense of responsibility in order to protect the integrity of the senate as an important democratic institution and of individual senators.
“I believe we need to retrace our steps and reconsider our stand as legislators on matters of public interest. Our party, APC, has the majority in both chambers of the national assembly, yet we hold the executive prisoner of politics that are unhealthy for the polity.
“It is such a terrible irony that we sabotage our own government by refusing to do our part in support of the executive. Appointments requiring senate approval are held up. The consequence is that the public has nicknamed the president and his administration go-slow.
“The people gave us the mandate as a party to deliver. With our control of the executive and the national assembly, there is no reason why the government cannot acquit itself and fulfil the yearnings of the people. Perhaps, while we are consumed with sabotaging the administration and stabbing one another in the back, we forget that in less than a year from now, we shall be required to seek the people’s revalidation of our mandate to sit in these hallowed chambers. What shall we tell them?”