The Bill for an Act to make provision for the State of the Nation Address by the President passed through second reading on the floor of the Senate.
The Bill sponsored by the Leader of the Senate, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba seeks to provide for a law that would mandate a sitting President to present mid-year review of the administration’s policy thrust.
Leading the debate on the proposal, Ndoma-Egba said there was the need for a law to mandate the President to make a speech explaining his visions and plans for the country.
He said the Bill would provide for an annual State of the Nation Address, distinct from the annual budget speech, was in line with convention in most democratic countries..
“The idea is to take stock of the nation, the country and its condition, the government and its performance, the people and their wellbeing.
“Most of the advanced and emerging democracies around the world have entrenched this in their governance process even as a constitutional obligation.
“We shall therefore, be adding to our process of national governance some real value, passing this bill, ‘’ he said.
Sen. Abdul Ningi (PDP- Bauchi) observed that it was of utmost national importance for a President to articulate the promises he made to the people and the prospects that were achieved.
He urged the Bill to also provide that the President’s address should not be political or partisan slant.
“It is important when a sitting President comes out to truly express the reasons behind certain policies and their level of implementation.
“ There has to be provision that the President’s address should not be given a political tone. The President is leader for the entire country and as such his address should not be partisan,’’ he advised.
Similarly, Sen. Bbajide Omowurare (ACN- Osun) reiterated the need for the law to ensure that the State of the Nation Address is devoid of partisanship.
He added that it would give Nigerians the opportunity to know the President’s policy thrust? and? to know government’s position on every issue.
Sen. Ita Enang ( PDP- Akwa Ibom) said, if passed into law, the issues that led to resolutions of the National Assembly would be drastically reduced.
“It would keep the government alert and reduce some miscommunications. Most of the issues that we’ve been passing resolutions would be reduced to the minimum.
`The President should sign this bill as soon as it gets to him because the nation has nothing to lose, ‘’ Enang said.
Sen. Bukar Abba (ANPP- Yobe) said the Bill would afford Nigerians the opportunity of hearing the President’s views on issues rather than the current situation where his aides contradict themselves.
“With this Bill, Nigerians would be able to hear more directly from the President than the current situation where Ministers make contradictory comments on national issues.’’
In his ruling on the Bill, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over Thursday’s Plenary, said the Nigerian people deserved to know how their leaders performed.
“Those that are being governed deserve to know how they were being governed. Section 67 of the Constitution does not make it mandatory.
“So we are seeking to make it mandatory for the President to give a State of the Nation Address. We believe that the President would sign the Bill in to law.
“The Presidential Adviser had advised us on the appropriate thing to do, whenever the President refuses to assent to a law passed by the National Assembly, ‘’ he stressed.
The Bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs for further legislative action and report back within two weeks.
NAN reports that Senate’s deliberation on the Bill is in concurrence with the House of Representatives, which had earlier passed the Bill.