…INEC backs Presidency, PDP kicks
By Date Raji
President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected the amendments of electoral law passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives of National Assembly.
On Tuesday at the plenary session at the National Assembly, the President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki read the President letter “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate, my decision, on 3rd March 2018, to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.
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 (INEC) to organize, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statue to the Constitution; “The amend 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.
In addition , the President stated that he was complying with the requirements of Section 58 of the 1999 Constitution, particularly , sub- section 4 , by refusing to sign the bill . Buhari’s letter read , in part , “ Some of my reasons include the following : “ A. 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 (INEC) to organise, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15 (A) of the third statue to the Constitution; “ B . The amend 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 ; “ C. The amendment to Section 152 Sub- section 325 of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.”
Although Senate has not officially come out with next step, there are indications that the upper legislative house may decide to veto the president’s decision by overturning it through two third majority.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday reacted to the President refusal to assent the law saying it is not surprised by the President act following his attitude towards National issues and public interest.
The National Publicity Secretary, PDP Kola Ologbondiyan said the Party believed in the tenets of democracy including respect for National assembly to make and amend laws as the occasion demands.
“In the light of this development, the PDP, and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians, now eagerly await the final decision of the National Assembly on this amendment”
“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 (APC).
The party vowed to defeat President Buhari in the next year election and restore the nation back to the path of progress, national cohesion and a vibrant economy.
In another related development, INEC has backed the president refusal on the amended electoral law saying it is a right move in the right direction.
The statement reads “We would work with the existing arrangement. The status quo remains.” It would be recalled INEC had announced earlier that the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections would hold on February 16, while Governorship and State Legislative election would hold on 2nd March 2019.
Members of the House of Representatives will meet to decide whether to override President Muhammad Buhari’s decision to withheld assent to the Electoral Act amendment proposing presidential election to hold last in 2019 general elections.
Some members of the House who reacted to the president’s letter rejecting the reordering of election by the National Assembly said every member would participate in the process.