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Electoral bill: Senate suspends move to override Buhari’s veto

  • In January, the National Assembly will meet to discuss the next steps.
  • Representatives and the PDP caucus have pledged to mobilise for a direct primary election with e-transmission of results.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the Senate will consult with the House of Representatives on how to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto of the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill. 

The Senate President, on the other hand, pointed out on Wednesday that the 1999 Constitution does not allow the chamber to act solely on such matters when the House is not in session. 
The House, on the other hand, had begun its recess on Tuesday, postponing plenary until January 2022. Representatives were also discouraged from taking similar actions by the Speaker, who advised them to wait until next year’s session. 

After both chambers reconvene from the Christmas and new year recess, Lawan stated that a joint position with the House would be reached after due consultation with Nigerians to determine the appropriate course of action. 

“The Senate, in a closed session, deliberated on matters relevant to the workings of the Senate in particular and the National Assembly in general,” Lawan said of the closed session. 

In closed session, the Senate discussed how to respond to Mr. President’s letter on the electoral bill amendment. 

As a result, the Senate decided to consult with the House of Representatives in January, when both chambers will be in session. 

During our January recess, the Senate also decided to consult with our constituents. 

The Senate believes that as major stakeholders in the laws we pass, our constituents have a role to play.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the House has vowed to mobilise for overriding the President on the bill.

Leader of the caucus, Kingsley Chinda, in a statement issued on Wednesday, alleged that Buhari declined to sign the bill into law due to the provision for electronic transmission of election results and not a restriction of political parties to direct primary as the President noted in his letter to the National Assembly.

Chinda’s statement was titled ‘Save Nigeria now from Buhari: PDP Caucus Lawmakers Cry Out…Say Nigeria Seized by Hostage Takers, Bandits, Terrorists…As Mr. President Shows Utter Disdain for Constitution…Calls on Buhari to Resign.’

The statement partly read, “On the issue of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the caucus expressed concerns that in the past one month, Nigerians have waited on General Buhari to give assent to the electoral reform bill passed to him by the National Assembly.

“As was postulated in several quarters, he has declined assent to same, using the cost of direct primaries as a decoy. The untold reason for declining is to avoid the electronic transmission of results which will improve the credibility of the electoral system.

“This refusal, though contemplated, has left Nigerians confounded by a President who continues to show utter disdain for the Constitution and the reform of the institutions of the state. Under him, our institutions of state have regressed to the point that the gains of previous institutions reforms, embarked by our great party (PDP) while in power, have been either lost to his inaction or to his deliberate ploy to leave our country worse than he met it. On this point alone, we are not convinced that he is interested in the reform of the electoral process.”

“A ruling party that cannot conduct its national convention lacks the capacity to implement some of the innovative and people-empowering provisions of the bill, like the direct party primaries and electronic transmission of results from the units. As an opposition caucus, we will ensure that our members exercise their power under Section 58(5) of the Constitution to veto the President whenever the National Assembly deems it fit to table the issue for discussion.”

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