(Feb. 20, 2009) On February 19, 2009, the Nigerian Senate approved the Bill for an Act to Enshrine an Annual State of the Nation Address and Other Matters Concerned. The new legislation would compel the President of Nigeria to give a “state of the nation address” once a year, on the first day of the second week in May. The bill mandates that the President deliver the address personally.
The bill provides an exhaustive list of issues that the President must include in his address, “issues including but not limited to national security, the economy, external debt situation, defense, poverty eradication, social justice and observance of the federal character in government appointments, inter-governmental relationships, foreign policy and regional co-operation, education and agricultural policy.” (Andrew Oota, Senate Demands Yearly State of the Nation Address, LEADERSHIPNIGERIA [Abuja], Feb. 20, 2009, available at http://allafrica.com/stories/200902200433.html.) The Senate rejected a provision that requires both chambers of the National Assembly to “harmonize resolutions reached on the state of the nation address” after having debated, as mandated by the bill, the content of the presidential address within five days of its delivery. (Id.)
The bill will be sent to the President's desk for his assent if it passes the lower house of the National Assembly. Should the President fail to give his assent within 30 days of receipt of the bill, the National Assembly would have to pass it again, with a two-thirds majority in both chambers required, in order to override the President's veto. (Art. 58, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), http://www.nigeria-law.org/ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm (last visited Feb. 20, 2009).)
While Nigeria is attempting to create a presidential obligation through an act of law, in the United States, the obligation of the President to give a state-of-the-union address to Congress is a constitutional mandate. The U.S. Constitution stipulates that the President “from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient …” (art. II, §30). (United States Constitution, http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articleii.html#section3 (last visited Feb. 20, 2009).)