The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, says President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected a high number of bills because he has to analyse such documents closely so that he will not sign stupid bills into law.
Shehu, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, said this in Abuja on Monday.
The President’s spokesman had accused the 8th Assembly of frustrating Buhari especially in the area of delaying the passage of the budget in 2018.
When challenged with facts showing that President Buhari had rejected more bills from the National Assembly than any other President in Nigeria’s history, Shehu said the President did it for the right reasons as he could not sign stupid bills into law.
Shehu was asked to react to claims by the Senate that it had passed 306 bills which is the highest number of bills passed by a legislative arm of government in Nigeria’s history while Buhari had the record for the highest number of rejected bills.
In his reaction, however, Shehu said Buhari was known to be meticulous with his work.
He said during the minimum wage bill amendment, for instance, the President drew up a list comprising ministers, stakeholders and even members of the judiciary to evaluate and agree with the contents of the bill before signing it.
Shehu said such painstaking processes take time but it helps prevent the President from signing stupid bills.
The President’s spokesman said, “Let me say that the President is very methodical in dealing with matters such as this. A President could sit in that powerful office and act like he knows it all and I think in this country, we have had such Presidents but President Buhari is different because whenever bills come for signature, he will ask that a long list of stakeholders be drawn up. For example, the minimum wage bill he which signed.
“Prior to that, labour groups had been demanding that he sign immediately but he refused and identified all stakeholders, ministers and even the judiciary were made to sign off on it and when this process is on, it takes a lot of time.
“Sometimes deadlines are issued and re-issued. However, the point is that at the end of it, a thorough job is done so that the President does not sign stupid documents and that is important for this country.”
He said the seven-month delay in passing the 2018 budget should be featured in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Shehu said, “The delay which was experienced in 2018 in which the National Assembly held unto the budget for seven months is good enough for the Guinness Book of Records and the President lamented this.”
When asked if ministers who failed to appear before the National Assembly to defend their respective budgets did not contribute to the delay, Shehu said the parliament should have summoned such ministers if it were true.
He said the legislative arm of government had the power to order the arrest of persons without immunity but the fact that they did not enforce such powers showed that they were only looking for excuses.
The President’s aide, however, failed to explain why Buhari had failed to sign the Electoral Amendment bill 2019 into law.