Electoral Act: How Buhari’s Rejection Divides Lawmakers

President Muhammadu Buhari has withheld assent to the amendment passed by the National Assembly which changed the sequence of elections in the country.
The president cited constitutional reasons for his rejection in a letter he sent to Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
The letter was read by the presiding officers at both chambers during yesterday’s session.
The letter tagged, ‘Presidential decision to withhold assent to the Electoral amendment bill 2018,’ gave three reasons for the president’s action.
These are: “ 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 organize, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statue to the Constitution;
“B. 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;
“C. The amendment to Section 152 Subsection 325 of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.”
To override the President, 2/3rd majority of both chambers of the National Assembly is required.
Section 58(5) of the 1999 Constitution reads: “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.”
While the 2/3rd of the Senate is 72, that of the House is 240. Since 1999, the National Assembly had only overruled the President once. It was during President Olusegun Obasanjo on the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
We’ll block override – Ndume
Contacted, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) said any move to override the president would be thwarted, as it would amount to overriding the yearnings of the masses.
Ndume is a member of a pro- Buhari group that came up following the controversies that trailed the passage of the amendment to the electoral act.
He said in a telephone interview with Daily Trust, “If they make any move to override the president we will block them. We are over 43 and more persons have indicated interest today. We are calling on our colleagues not to push the issue further because it is not in public interest.”
He said the amendment would double the cost of the conduct of the elections and expose Nigerians to associated risks.
“If the elections are conducted twice, the security implications would be less than when it is spread to three weeks as proposed by the bill,” he said.
But Ndume’s statement was faulted by a northern senator who claimed that they had more than the required 2/3rd to override the president.
The lawmaker who objected to being named said the camp of Nudme had only 10 senators.
“The president will override because all those who are with Senator Abdullahi Adamu are 10. And it is a game of numbers. Those who are with the president in the Senate are now with Saraki because of the exigencies of the parliament,” he said.
No action taken yet – Spokesperson
Speaking at an interview session at the Senate, the spokesperson of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said no action had been taken on the matter.
“The Senate has not taken any action on the letter vetoing the 2010 Electoral (Amendment) bill 2018 for now because there are processes and procedures of taking such actions. “First, having received the letter yesterday (Monday) as read on the floor by the Senate President, the next line of action would be to approve it in our votes and proceedings tomorrow (today) after which it will be properly studied for any possible line of actions,” he said .
We are glad with Buhari’s action – Kaita
A member of the APC in the House of Representatives from Katsina State, Ahmed Babba Kaita, said they were glad that the president declined assent to the bill.
He said from the beginning, they knew that the president would not sign the bill into law because it was self-serving.
Asked if those in support of the bill could gather the required number to meet the constitutional two-third to override the president, Kaita said there was no way any such thing could happen.
“We’re waiting for them. The bill is intended to give the opposition an advantage, but we knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t scale through. We’re very glad that the president didn’t sign it into law. Let’s now see what they’ll do,” he said.

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