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Budget 2013: House May Override President's Assent

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ABUJA, February 21, (THEWILL) - Following the lingering impasse between the legislature and The Presidency over the 2013 budget, the House of Representatives, Thursday, said it may override President Goodluck Jonathan's assent by next week if he fails to sign the budget after the ongoing negotiations.

Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, who disclosed this in Abuja, said the National Assembly is presently exploring all available avenues but would not hesitate to invoke the required constitutional provisions if all efforts fail.

“Right now as we speak, the leadership of the National Assembly is interacting with Mr. President about the 2013 budget and by next week, if nothing has been achieved, we are going to apply the Constitution that gives us powers to override his assent.

"We are not afraid to take that decision. We must explore all means available before taking a decision. We still have time before we go into that. The National Assembly will act at the appropriate time," he explained.

Giving insight into why President Jonathan has refused to sign the bill, Zakari explained that the issue of benchmark, the unresolved issue of the Director General of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the issue of rollover of the 2012 budget were the bones of contention.

He debunked rumours that the House will shift ground in order to reach a compromise, saying "It is criminal to change anything, unless the House reconvenes and deliberates on it before taking a decision."

On when the National Assembly transmitted the budget to the President and the date the 30 days ultimatum as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution as (amended) will expire, Zakari said "The Constitution demands 30 working days and as far as we are concerned, it is not yet time."

The leadership of National Assembly and the Executive have been meeting in the past few days to reconcile their differences on the budget.