Reasons Buhari Dares Senate, Vetoes Electoral Bill

Reasons Buhari Dares Senate, Vetoes Electoral Bill

Reasons Buhari Dares Senate, Vetoes Electoral Bill

Reasons Buhari Dares Senate, Vetoes Electoral Bill

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday disclosed the withholding of assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018, heightening tension in the political drama that could determine the outcome of next year’s general election. The National Assembly had on February 14, 2018 passed the amendment, which re-ordered the sequence of the election, making the National Assembly first and the presidential last. It argued that the move was done to boost democracy.

Buhari’s letter, which was read on the floor of the upper chamber by Senate President Bukola Saraki, noted that the sequence is contrary to the constitutional provision that accords full autonomy to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Some legislators who criticised the bill, as passed by the Senate, are currently facing disciplinary action before the chamber’s ethics committee for imputing false motives to the chamber’s intention.

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Its spokesman, Aliu Sabi Abdullahi, told source that since the letter has been read to senators, it would form part of votes and proceedings to be approved today (Wednesday).“ The Senate will subsequently decide on how to handle the letter and other related matters,” he said .

Captioned,“Presidential Decision To Withhold Assent To The Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 ”, Buhari’s letter states: “The amendment to the sequence of elections in Section 25 of the Principal Act may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission to organise, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15 (A) of the third statute to the constitution.”

It notes : “ The amendment to Section 138 of the Principal Act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates unduly limits the rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process.”

The third reason for rejecting the bill reads: “ The amendment to Section 152 ( 3 )- (5 ) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.” It remains to be seen whether the two chambers of the National Assembly would be able to muster the required votes to override the president ’ s veto.

Section 58 (5) of the constitution states: “Where the president withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the president shall not be required . ”

When the Senate approved the sequence last month, its chamber turned rowdy, as senators, perceived to be Buhari loyalists, protested. Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa), a former Nasarawa State governor and Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum , led the dissenters.

Faulting the adoption of the controversial election sequence clause, they claimed the inclusion of Section 25 (1 ) was targeted at President Buhari . They contended that the action of the National Assembly breached the constitution, which they claimed empowered only INEC to fix dates for elections. They also alleged that the process was rushed to achieve predetermined motives.

“Considering the strategic importance of the bill, it does not need to be rushed. So many members of the committee did not sign. We need to know why they did not. I believe that the content of the bill is not fair. We need to be fair. Why the rush? I will not be part of it,” Adamu said.

The Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP ) condemned Buhari’s refusal to give assent to the legislation , stressing: “As a party, we are not afraid of the 2019 general elections because we know that Nigerians have already rejected President Buhari and his dysfunctional All Progressives Congress.“ We know that with the support of Nigerians, any candidate that emerges on our platform ahead of 2019 will clinically defeat President Buhari at the polls and lead our nation back to the path of progress , national cohesion and a vibrant economy. ”

The National Chairman, United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, said: “Withholding assent to this bill smacks of fear of losing the 2019 presidential election as well as the fear of his ( Buhari ) party not benefiting from the bandwagon effect of a possible early victory if the presidential election came first. “If the APC and President Buhari were confident that the record of their performance was impressive as they have often claimed, there should be no reason his fear should be expressed in the manner of withholding assent to a bill that holds very strong promise to deepen and develop our democracy . ”