The Three Principal characters to play in this respects is the National assembly, Joint Finance Committee and the President of the Federation.
Who/What is National Assembly??
The National assembly is the Federal legislative body in Nigeria and is created by the virtue of section 4 of the Nigeria 1999 Constitution, it comprises if the Senate/Upper House/Red House and The House of Rep/Lower House/Red House. the powers accorded to it include :
- Making Law
- Approval of bills emanating from the executive
- Investigative functions as it is well written in SECTION 88 :
(POWER TO CONDUCT INVESTIGATIONS)
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, each House of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed investigation into –
(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, and
(b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for –
(i) executing or administering laws enacted by National Assembly, and
(ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.
This is inter alia (Among other things) the investigate power of the national assembly is.
WHO/WHAT IS JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE
The Joint Finance Committee is a statutory body which works on reviewing Money bills that has been proposed by the National assembly, the house of Senate and Rep has separate Finance committee, the togetherness of the both house comes about JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE. One of their function is to review money bill that had been proposed by the National assembly in a joint sitting, upon review, send it back to them (National Assembly), from therein goes directly to the President (executive) for approval.
The procedure above must be followed, if not, the act of the JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE will be declare unconstitutional as well highlighted in AG Bendel v. AG Federation where :
The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria forwarded a bill to the National
Assembly titled Allocation of Revenue setting out a new formula for the
distribution of amount standing to credit of the Federation Account. The bill was
unconstitutionally passed as the Joint Finance Committee were supposed to have passed it back to the Houses for it to be passed at a joint meeting. Instead it was sent straight to the President from the Committee. The Government of Bendel State was dissatisfied with the way the National Assembly exercised their legislative power and challenged the constitutionality of the Act. It was held to be null and void as it failed to follow legislative procedure.
WHAT IS PRESIDENTIAL ASSENT??
When passed in one House, it is sent to the other House to be passed by simple
majority and sent to the President for assent. He must assent or withhold assent
within thirty days. If assent is withheld, the bill is passed back to the Houses to be
passed again by 2/3 majority of each House. This overrides the President’s veto and
his assent is no longer needed. In National Assembly v. President of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria where :
The President withheld his assent on the Electoral Bill sent to him and 2/3rd
passed a motion to override his veto. The trial judge held that the Act was
validly passed as it was in accordance to Section 58(3) & (5) which stated that
the President can give or withhold assent to any bills passed to him and if assent
is withheld, the veto can be overturned by 2/3rd of the National Assembly. On
appeal, it was argued that the passing of the mere motion to override did not
satisfy the requirements of the section. 2/3rd majority of membership was
required to successfully override the motion not just the ordinary quorum of a House. 2/3rd of each House was required not just quorum.
MODE OF OPERATION BETWEEN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE AND PRESIDENT
The legislature is the arm of government charged in section 4 with the making of laws for the peace order and good governance of Nigeria. The range of matters which the national assembly can legislate upon is also highlighted in section 4 This law making powers are non-delegable probably because of their level of importance within the polity. The procedure for the exercise of such law making powers are provided for in section 58 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended. With particular regard to appropriation bills and other money bills. Section 59 provides in subsection 2 that “ where a bill to which this section relates is passed by one of the houses of the house of the national assembly but is not passed by the other house within a period of two months from the commencement of the financial year, the president of the senate shall within fourteen days thereafter arrange for and convene a meeting of the joint finance committee to examine the bill with the view to resolving the differences between the two houses” this provides for a situation of conflict in the passing of such bills. The constitution however leaves a lacuna as to what exactly is to be done where the joint committee is able to reconcile the differences. This gap was filled by the court in the case of AG Bendel state V. AG Federation. In which case, the SC declared invalid the appropriation bill which went directly from the joint committee of the house to the president for assent. The court rationalised it as a usurpation of legislative power which was unconstitutional and declared that the bill be sent back the legislative houses for consideration.