By Kemi Dawodu
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God”Romans 13:1, (KJV).
I have shared with you three stages of law making process at the National Assembly in Nigeria in the last two editions. In this edition, I shall conclude the series sharing the fourth stage.
Another way in which the President is involved in the act of law making is by signing bills into laws. A bill does not become law until the President signs it. The Clerk of the National Assembly will “enrol” the bill for the President's signature. Enrolment is the production of a clean copy for the assent of the President. The Clerk of the National Assembly produces the clean copy, certifies it and forwards it to the President.
The President has thirty (30) days to sign a bill sent to him/her by the National Assembly. If s/he disagrees with the provision of the bill or some aspects of it, s/he can veto by withholding his/her signature. Within the 30 days, the President must communicate to the National Assembly his/her feelings and comments about the bill. The President must state the areas s/he wants amended before s/he signs the bill. If the National Assembly agrees with the President, the bill can be withdrawn for deliberation on the amendments suggested by the President.
However, the National Assembly is empowered by the constitution to overrule the veto of the President. If, after 30 days, the President refuses to sign the bill and the National Assembly is not in support of the President's amendments, the two chambers can recall the bill and re-pass it. If the bill is passed in the form it was sent to the President by two-third majority vote in both chambers, the bill automatically becomes a law even without the signature of the President. This happened in the case of the Niger Delta Development Commission Bill. The two chambers passed the bill into law after the President failed to sign it within the time that is prescribed for him to do so.
The role of Christians in the law making processes of this country cannot be over emphasized neither can it be ignored. As children of God, we should pray for our leaders in the executive and legislative arms, as well as the judiciary for direction, integrity, selflessness and uprightness in the laws /decisions to be made with respect to the country’s affairs.
It should also be noted that there are opportunities open to the general public for their useful input to the law making process such as sponsoring of a bill and public hearing at the committee stage. As children of God, we have a role to play in nation building and national development. Examples of bills that can be sponsored by Christians include bills against child marriage, immoral or indecent sexual behaviours; bills to preserve freedom of worship and approve places of worship; bills to protect persecuted Christians in various places in the country; bills to give refuge to Christians, who are being persecuted, in neighbouring states.
In conclusion, let us not forget that our Christian journey is embedded in the love and laws of God. As a result, we should not shy away from involvement in the law making process as Christians, either by not praying or not actively participating in the process. In the Gospels, according to Matthew (23:1-12) Mark (12:38-40), Luke (20:20-26) and John (8:3-4), Jesus Christ met with law makers of that period at certain times, and condemned every unholy and hypocritical act of the rulers. There were times this nearly cost him his life, but a way of escape was always provided for him. Let us not leave our house desolate (Luke 13:35) but with prayer and participation lead our nation on a righteous path. “For righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV)