Any leader who comes into power is expected to have an outline of the plans they have for the development of the nation. This is the essence of the manifesto during the electioneering process. However, after such a leader comes into power there should be machineries in place to check how well the leader is faring as far as achieving their goals for the nation is concerned – if they are still on track, or whether they are derailing.
One of such machineries is a state-of-the-nation address by the president. Against this backdrop, a bill to compel the President to periodically address the nation on the state of affairs in governance and development has scaled second reading in the Senate. Senators, on Thursday, supported the bill which emanated from the House of Representatives, even though it has been pending at the National Assembly since 2004.
But, from the look of things at the moment, it seems the bill is ready to force itself into realization. Members of the National Assembly have expressed their readiness to override the President’s veto, should he refuses to sign the bill into law this time.
Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, said he had sponsored the original bill in 2004, but it was not signed into law after its passage. The bill, he added, suffered a similar fate after it was passed in 2008. He said, “Essentially the aim of the state of the nation address is to get the President to point a direction for the country and then for the parliament through their debates to reflect the policy direction. It is on a need to know basis, because those who are being governed are entitled to know what the government is doing.”
Also, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, leader of the Senate who led the debate, said the bill would not foreclose presentation of annual budget nor duplicate its functions. According to him “The idea of the bill is to take stock of the nation, its condition, the government and its performance as well as the people and their well-being.” He also pointed out that many of the advanced and emerging democracies around the world have entrenched similar provisions in their process of governance.