SECTION 5 of the Nigerian 1999 constitution (as amended) confers upon the president the power to sign bills into law after the National Assembly has passed it. Muhammadu Buhari as president, during his eight-year administration, also signed several bills into law.
Some of these include executive orders, establishment bills, constitutional amendments or an amendment to repeal an existing law.
According to the constitution, the president has 30 days to assent to a bill after it has been transmitted to him by the National Assembly. However, if the president withholds his assent for unclear reasons, the bill can be passed by two/third majority of the House.
The ICIR findings, from multiple media reports showed that over 63 bills were signed into law by the former president.
Buhari got resounding compliments when he signed some major bills, which created many controversies at the time of deliberation in the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, there are still concerns over implementing some bills despite being assented to by the president. The ICIR reported how there are concerns about the Petroleum Industrial Act signed in 2021.
Also, the aviation workers, in February 2022, threatened strike action over the failure to implement the minimum wage.
As Nigeria transitions government today, here is a look at some of the bills:
Minimum Wage Increase in 2019
The signing of the Labour Act of 2004 provided the country to set a new minimum wage for workers from N3,000 to N5,500 per month. It was later increased in 2011 to N18,000 in a new minimum wage act signed by President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
As the country’s economy began to worsen, the Nigeria Labour Congress embarked on a strike action demanding an increase in the minimum wage in 2018. This demand created uproar during the deliberation of the National Assembly and Nigerian Governors Forum as to how much should be paid.
The amount revolved between N22,000 to over N50,00 until the House of Representatives passed N30,000 in January 2019 and Senate in March. In April, Buhari passed into law the new minimum wage of N30,000.
‘Not too young to Run’ Bill 2018
In 2016, human rights activists and civic organisations campaigned to reduce the age of running for executive offices, permitting candidates as low as 25- 30 years to via for some state or federal positions.
The bill was introduced into the House of Representatives in 2017 and, after deliberation, transmitted to the 36 states’ House of Assembly for them to vote for the amendment. This process saw a lot of delays up until February 2018.
In April, the Senate concluded to transmit the bill to the president. The ICIR reported how Buhari promised to sign the bill while giving his speech on Democracy Day in May 2018.
Buhari signed the bill two days after, reducing the constitutional age requirement for the office of the President from 40 to 35 years old. Also, the age requirement for the state governor’s office and the Senate automatically drops from 35 to 30 years, while a 25-year-old will now be eligible to run for a seat in state assemblies and the Federal House of Representatives.
Electoral Act 2022
After months of withholding assent, Buhari assented to the electoral bill that repealed and replaced the 2010 Electoral Act.
The 2022 Electoral Act is intended to bring innovations to regulating Federal, State and Area Council elections in Nigeria. The act gave provisions for the electronic transmission of results, early party primaries and the exclusion of Political appointees from acting as voting delegates or aspirants.
Buhari signed the bill into law in February 2022 after withholding assent five times.
In 2018 alone, he rejected the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act four times. His reasons ranged from irregularities to drafting issues, the sequence of elections, and the phrasing of words in parts of the bill.
The first time was in February 2018. Buhari cited the re-ordering of the sequence of elections as his reason for rejection. Then in June, the Amendment Bill was passed by the National Assembly and transmitted to Buhari. But the bill was not considered by the President.
In July 2018, Buhari again refused to sign another version of the Electoral Amendment Bill transmitted to him by the national lawmakers. This time, he stated the increased cost of conducting elections, among other reasons for not signing the Bill. He declined again in December.
The fifth time was in November 2021. Buhari cited the cost of conducting direct primaries and infringement on the rights of Nigerians to participate in governance and security as reasons for the rejection.
The Petroleum Industry Bill
In 2021, President Buhari signed the Petroleum Industry Bill into law, closing a 15-year effort to reform Nigeria’s oil industry. Buhari signed the Petroleum Industry Bill in August, weeks after the National Assembly passed the bill.
The bill aimed to create an environment conducive to the growth of the oil sector and address the grievances of communities most impacted by extractive industries.
The bill also sought to regulate the performance of the oil and gas sector and ensure transparency in Nigeria’s state oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The first petroleum industry bill was presented to the National Assembly in 2008 by the administration of late President Umar Yar’Adua.
But the bill’s passage since then, has suffered multiple setbacks and stalled for almost two decades.
Other Bills signed
Some of the bills assented into law by the outgoing president in 2016 are the Prevention of Crime Amendment Act, the National Crop Varieties and Livestock Breeds (Registration) Amendment Act, the Telecommunications and Postal Offences Amendment Act, The National Agricultural Land Development Authority Amendment Act, The Produce Enforcement of Export Standards Amendment Act , Water Resources Amendment Act among others.
In 2018, he signed the National Senior Citizens Centre Act, Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges), Rail Loan (International Bank) (Repeal) Act, Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Spain (Domestication and Enforcement ) Act, Extradition (Amendment) Act, among others.
Also, the Reform Nigeria Prison Bill, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Amendment Bil, Defence Intelligence Agency Civilian Pensions Board, and Finacial Bill was signed between 2019 and 2020.
While the Mental Health Bill, Increase of Retirement Rate Bill, Nigeria Law Reform Commission Act, Nigeria Start-up Bill, Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, Health insurance as well as some constitutional amendment among others were signed between 2021 and 2023.