By Christiana Ekpa
President Muhammadu Buhari, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the president on National Assembly matters (Reps), Hon. Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub yesterday disclosed that his Boss may assent to the Nigeria Peace Corps bill if passed again by the National Assembly.
El-Yakub gave the hint yesterday while addressing the media about the five new bills assented to by the president.
Responding to a question as to whether the president would assent to the Nigeria Peace Corps bill, if passed again and sent to him by the National Assembly, El-Yakub said: “So to answer you directly, of course with the renewed relationship, I’m sure there will be more work that will lead to the expeditious passage of the bill and of course, Mr. president will assent to all bills passed by the National Assembly, which do not have conflict or reservations.
“I’m sure that many important bill including the ones that you have mentioned (Nigeria Peace Corps) are being reintroduced; and some are even being re-introduced as executive bills like the PAC bill, which was tabled on the floor of the senate”, he stated.
El-Yakub stressed “Let me put it on record that Mr. president does not withheld assent to a bill that is in the interest of this country; and certainly all bills that are sent to him be it non-executive bill, they go through the same scrutiny and opinions are sought and whenever he declined his assent, he actually communicates the reasons to the National Assembly.
“And if those reasons are addressed, certainly Mr. President will assent to the bill. But you will find that some bills have flaws, some are technical issues, some are issues bordering on legality of the bill to the extent that it conflicts with provisions of the constitution or a treaty that has been signed by the country, which means assenting to such a bill will be a matter of conflict of interest. All these are looked at by the office of the attorney general of the federation and relevant agencies that are stakeholders in that bill”.
Recall that the Nigeria Peace Corps bill was passed by the 8th National Assembly, but the president had withheld his assent citing several reasons including paucity of funds.
But just last month, the House of Representatives through the chief whip, Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno) reintroduced the Nigeria Peace Corps bill.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has assented to five bills namely, the Obafemi Awolowo University (transition provisions) amendment bill 2019, the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi Amendment bill 2019, University of Maiduguri Amendment bill 2019, National Fertilizer Quality Control bill 2019 and Nigeria Council of Food Science and Technology (establishment bill) 2019.
Speaking on the bills, El-Yakub explained that “The three university bills have something in common because they specify the minimum qualification for the chairman of the Governing Board of the universities; which is a minimum of university degree or its equivalent. And the person must be physically fit.
“It also seeks to regulate the ownership of intellectual property. It also includes the provision of pre-action notice. It means if any member of staff or student is aggrieved and wants to sue the university, he has to give the university a one month notice”.
Continuing, the SSA explained that “The National Fertilser seeks for the repeal of the. This act now is to put measures that safeguard the interest of the farmers by addressing the issue of fertilizer. It also protects farmers against misbranding of fertilizer; it also helps to create an enabling environment and consider the importation and distribution of fertilizer.
“It also provides penalties for defaulters for example importers of unbranded fertilisers. Essentially it is to ensure that farmers and farm produce are protected so that underweight fertilisers are found in the market”.