President Goodluck Jonathan’s letter to the National Assembly, rejecting amendments to the 1999 Constitution, which was read on the floor of Senate on Wednesday by Senate President, David Mark, was received with shock by some members, who openly expressed surprise at the reasons why the President vetoed the bill.
Chairman, Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (4th Alteration Bill 2015), Senator Ike Ekweremadu, announced that his members would hold a two-day retreat from Wednesday to Thursday to review the development.
Efforts by members to subject Jonathan’s letter to debate were frustrated by the Senate President, who said there was the need for them to have a copy of the letter each before they would be able to make meaningful contribution.
But Senator Abubakar Yar’Adua (Katsina Central) raised a point of order and insisted that the issue be discussed because of the serious fundamental issues raised by Jonathan, which affected the integrity of the National Assembly.
Yar’Adua said, “I think it is important for us to discuss that letter and see whether there is need for us to consider the letter or not.
“I think the President has raised very serious fundamental issues, especially in terms of our conscience as lawmakers and his own position as the chief executive officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is why I am raising this point or order.”
Although Mark agreed with Yar’Adua that the letter should be extensively discussed, he maintained that the debate could only be meaningful after members would have studied the letter at home.
Mark said, “Obviously, this letter is not like any other normal letter. We can’t discuss the letter unless you have a copy of it. So, the first reaction is for me to make copies available to everybody and you go and study it.