The House of Representatives denied on Sunday that the report of the 2014 National Conference would no longer be considered by the National Assembly on the excuse that President Muhammadu Buhari was not disposed to implementing any of its recommendations.
The majority All Progressives Congress and minority party caucuses in the House led by the Peoples Democratic Party, also stated that the issue remained speculative so long as Buhari did not communicate his reservations to the legislature.
Our correspondent spoke exclusively with the key caucus leaders in Abuja on Sunday amid speculation that the President had reportedly dumped the report.
The national conference was initiated by his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, in the build up to the 2015 general election, gulping billions of naira in execution.
The conference looked into many subjects, including electoral reforms, devolution of powers, security, economic reforms and governance structure.
Jonathan had wrapped up the report just in time before the March 28 presidential poll and forwarded it to the National Assembly.
The 7th House of Represetnatives acknowledged the receipt of the report and referred it to its ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review.
Reacting to the development on Sunday, House Majority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbjabiamila, said the House would not agree that the President was not interested in the report until he writes to the lawmakers to say so.
He explained that until there was an official communication to that effect, the House would not take any steps in a hurry.
Gbajabiamila added that upon receiving a letter from Buhari, the House could take some steps like discussing with the President to appreciate his reasons.
The House leader stated, “The President has not communicated this position to the House.
“However, if and when he does, we will sit with him to understand and if need be, appreciate his reasons.
“Remember, while the legislature is to serve as an independent arm of government, it should also work in tandem with the executive arm as best as possible, wherever and whenever necessary. It should be on the same page as long as such is for the greater good of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
House Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, also told our correspondent that the “report remains very much alive.”
Ogor argued that assuming it was true Buhari was against the report, the President’s position would not stop the National Assembly from performing its duties.
He noted that any aspect of the report could be thrown up in the form of a bill “by any member” and be passed, using the constitutionally recognised procedure for passing bills.
However, Ogor said up to “90 per cent” of the same issues raised in the report were similar to the amendments the National Assembly made to the 1999 Constitution last year.
“But, having said that, the report is not dead. You may say the bulky report will not be taken by the House, but if there are issues in some aspects that are brought up, they will be passed.
“For example, if the people still want to talk about state police and other issues, they can still be looked into by the House. So, the report is not dead yet,” Ogor said,
Jonathan did not sign the new amendments to the constitution before his exit on May 29.
A top government source, giving Buhari’s position on the report in Abuja, had stated, “President Buhari never believed in the national conference. His position is not different from that of his party, the APC, which snubbed the invitation to send representatives to the confab.
“The conference and its report are Jonathan’s babies and you won’t expect this administration to implement the report, especially in this era that all we have been doing is to try and clear the rot left behind by the same administration.
“The President had not even at any time made any reference to the report. It is not in his agenda.”