Electoral Amendment Bill: Buhari can not be taken seriously- Atiku
NEWS DIGEST – Following the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for the fourth time, the opposition Peoples’ Democratic party Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has chided the Buhari-led administration.
NEWS DIGEST reported how President Buhari, for the fourth time, refused to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and has transmitted his decision to both arms of the National Assembly on Friday.
This newspaper recalls that Mr. Buhari withheld assent to the bill with reasons that the proposed law would usurp the constitutional powers of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to decide on election matters, including fixing dates and election order.
Also, prior to a second communication from the National Assembly, the President, in September, declined to assent to the bill.
“Mr President, assurances that your administration will conduct a free, fair and credible elections can not be taken seriously.”
“For Nigerians and especially us in the opposition, you just missed an opportunity to walk the talk,” Mr. Atiku, on Friday, posted on social media.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang, didn’t specifically disclose the stance of the President whether he had signed or declined assent.
“His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR has communicated to the Senate and House of Representatives his decision on the Electoral (Amendment Bill, 2018 in accordance with the powers vested in him by the 1999 Constitution,” Mr Enang told journalists on Friday.
However, in a letter sent to the National Assembly, the President stated the legislative encumbrance such new act may pose for the 2019 elections which are a little over two months away.
Mr Buhari said such impediment may create room for ‘disruption’ and ‘confusion’ during the 2019 elections.
“Pursuant to section 58 (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, I hereby convey to the House of Representatives my decision on 6th December 2018 to decline presidential assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.
“I am declining assent to the Bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2018 general elections which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process. Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the elections may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.”
Meanwhile, Nigerians have also reacted to the move to oppose the Electoral Amendment Bill.
According to Shehu Sani, People’s Redemption Party’s Senator representing Kaduna Central, the President’s action is undemocratic.
“Opposition to the electoral amendment Bill is a disservice to democracy.The President should not be in league with those allergic to credible elections. How can the ruling elites now fear and discard the chariot that delivered them to power,one they showered so much praises?” He tweeted on Friday.
“Not surprised that buhari withheld assent to the electoral act amendment bill. Not surprised at all. Reason – Kano / incidence forms / rigging!” @Onyeka_Mbakwe, a legal practitioner, posted.
Utibeabasi @uty_onuk wrote on Twitter; “Buhari cannot say he loves the country more than everyone else If the people everyone else have selected to represent them, 70 political parties and counting have in one voice assented to this bill, why must he be a stumbling block to our success..”