A legal practitioner, Moyosore Onigbanjo, has said the on-going row between President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly over the State of the Nation address is an issue of ego.
With President Jonathan’s refusal to sign the passed State of the nation bill into law, Mr Onigbanjo noted that the lawmakers would also consider it demeaning if the address is to given by a representative instead of the President.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Onigbanjo, stated that Clauses 1, 2, 3, 5 of the bill which Mr. President objected to, is a device by the National Assembly to compel the President into performing the duty asked of him.
Although Section 67 of the Nigerian constitution gives the President powers of discretion in addressing the a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives, Mr Onigbanjo says, the lawmakers are trying to use the bill to change it into a mandatory function.
He said President Jonathan has taken “sound legal advice” by objecting to the clauses in question. However, the constitution guarantees the right of the citizens to demand accountability.
Nothing can override the President’s discretionary powers as outlined in the Nigerian constitution, he said, except an amendment is made to Section 67 of the Nigerian constitution.
Ne noted that “the position of the law is that when there is conflict between any law and the provisions of the Constitution, the provisions of the Constitution prevail.”
The lawyer warned that despite the National Assembly’s threat to override the President’s position, “the President would still not be compelled to attend” according to the law.
The United States of America, South Africa and Ghana are countries where the President is required to deliver an annual State of the nation or union address.
“It is a way of rendering account to the people” Onigbanjo said.