90 days after transmission, Buhari yet to sign NEDC Bill

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Signs that the North East Development Commission (NEDC) Bill forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent by the National Assembly on Friday, January 13, 2017, may have been vetoed emerged yesterday when after 90 days of such transmission, nothing concrete had been heard from the Presidency.

This was even as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Solomon Ita Enang, pleaded with our correspondent to wait till next week Tuesday for official comment from the presidency on the status of the bill.

Enang, who was reminded that the Bill had spent a total of 90 days as against 30 days provided for by the constitution on the table of Mr. President for assent without any action from him said: “Please give me till Tuesday next week for official comment on the status of the said bill.”

Section 58 subsections 4 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which deals with duration any transmitted bill from the National Assembly to the President should stay states: “Where a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall within 30days thereof, signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.”
Efforts made by our reporter to get the  views of  the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, on phone over the emerging development, being a frontline stakeholder from the North-east zone provisions of the bill were to cater for, proved abortive as his lines were switched off.

However, the entire leadership of the National Assembly had on January 25, 2017, while having in audience frontline stakeholders of the North-east states led by the Governor of Borno state, Alhaji Ibrahim Shetimma, assured that the bill would be assented to by President Buhari.
Specifically, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who spoke on behalf of the leadership of National Assembly said: “We all knew the situation in the Northeast.  I am very happy with the progress we have made today as we play our own part to show that the National Assembly is truly behind the North-east in the restoration of peace, rebuilding the devastated areas and bringing life back to the region.

“Since January 13, we have transmitted the NEDC Bill to the President and I have no doubt that he will assent to it looking at the public demand for it. If everything is done, I think the thank you, you can give all of us is that after the Bill becomes law, and the commission starts to work, that it will make a difference in the lives of the suffering masses.”

The federal lawmakers had in the bill separately passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives in November, last year, and forwarded to the President for assent in January this year, tasked the proposed commission with the re-building of the North-east region after years of destruction by activities of the Boko Haram insurgents.

The Commission as proposed by them is to be partly funded by three per cent of Value Added Taxes accruable to the federal government for a total of 10 years duration and named benefitting states to include Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba.

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