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‘Senate may pass constitution review bill into law’


Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN)

Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN),

Despite President Goodluck Jonathan’s veto, the Constitution Amendment Bill may still become law as the National Assembly may override his dissent. According to the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), if at the end of the day the president does not assent to the bill, the Senate would after 30 days pass it into law.

Ndoma-Egba who spoke to some newsmen in his home in Calabar, Cross River State on Sunday night said: “From 1960 to the sixth Senate, we never actually succeeded in any constitutional amendment in a democratic setting.

The only time we succeeded was in 1963 when there was an amendment to the then constitution to allow for the creation of the then Mid-West region, but beyond that, we never succeeded.

That jinx was broken in the sixth Senate when we passed the 1st, 2nd and the 3rd amendment to the constitution. “Constitutional amendment is not an easy process.

It is a very tedious and elaborate process which requires not only the normal procedures on the floor of the Senate but the involvement of the state assemblies and also public hearings at the national, zonal, state and federal constituency levels.

“The essence of public hearing is to allow the public make their own inputs and the public at large include government at all levels.

Governments send representatives to each stage of these public hearings. How come these issues were not raised at that point? How come that after we had gone through these tedious processes, these issues suddenly popped up?.

It is an unfortunate development. “When you withhold assent to a bill, the practice is to return the original copy of the bill, but what we got was not the original copy but a photocopy, and from that photocopy, the President’s signature was not there.

We can only be categorical when we receive the original copy and that was why, by resolution, we demanded that the original copy be sent back to us. “I can tell you that the National Assembly is not happy about that development, and I will not be surprised if they resort to the other constitutional solution to situations like this.

The constitution is very clear that within 30 days of the bills being sent to the president for assent, if the president withholds his assent, the National Assembly can override his veto by subjecting the bill again to the normal process of law making.

“These scenarios had happened before when former President Olusegun Obasanjo refused to give his assent to the bill creating the Niger Delta Development Commission.

That bill was passed into law without the presidential assent.” On the rumour that he was defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ndoma-Egba said: “If I were defecting, I would have come out openly to declare.

Anything you hear outside about my purported defection remains a rumour. One thing I found very amusing in Cross River is that anybody who leaves the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for any other party is Ndoma Egba’s supporter, whereas the story before now was that I have no supporter.

So, where are those supporters coming from? “There is oversimplification of dynamics of politics in Cross River. We are no longer thinking deeply, we are no more analyzing issues the way it should be.

We are becoming mentally lazy, when mental laziness comes in, it breeds impunity, and impunity breeds arrogance. That is where we are, and we are paying a very high price for impunity which has now become a culture in our party”.

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