Again, Buhari keeps sealed lips to Electoral Act

Again, Buhari keeps sealed lips to Electoral Act

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Counting down to next year’s general elections and,  President Muhammadu Buhari, for the fourth time  declined assent to the Electoral Act 2018 Amendment Bill.

The President has consequently voiced out  his reason for rejecting assent to the Bill to the National Assembly.

Before the latest version was submitted, he had withheld assent to the document about three times, attributing the decision to “errors” in the amended Bill.

This is just as the President is set to present an approved version of next year’s Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday, approved the fiscal document at a special session in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Though the proposed fiscal document is expected to be forwarded to the National Assembly on a yet-to-be announced date, the Presidency kept sealed lips on the figures therein.

The meeting, which started at about 10:30am, lasted till around 1.30pm, with most members of the council in attendance.

Speaking to State House Correspondents on the President’s withholding of assent to the Electoral Act, his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, was not forthcoming of the figures, saying only that details on the reason for the President’s return of the Bill is contained in the communication to the National Assembly.

He said: “President Muhammadu Buhari has taken decision on Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018. In accordance with his power under the 1999 Constitution, he has communicated that decision to the Senate and House of Representatives, in accordance with the law.”

Whether the Bill was assented to or rejected, Enang simply said: “The President has taken a decision in accordance with the powers vested in him according to the constitution. And by convention, that decision contained in the communication can only be revealed by the person to whom that decision is addressed.

“But the Electoral Bill has left Mr. President, because he has taken a decision and has remitted it back.”

Pressed further for reasons behind the President’s decision, the former lawmaker insisted that Buhari had already disclosed his decision on the matter to the National Assembly, insisting: “That is what it is now. This is all the law allows me to say by convention. Mr. President has sent that to the National Assembly.”

Asked if it was safe to say that the President rejected the Bill, Enang replied: “It is safe to say that the President has taken decision, as allowed by law, and has communicated that decision to the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

On the implication of the decision on the next year’s elections, the president’s aide insisted: “The implication of the decision is that the President has taken action on the Bill within the time allowed by law.’

Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, had penultimate Friday warned against the danger in stampeding Buhari into signing the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.

Fielding questions at the Presidential Villa, Lawan advised that Buhari should be given space to take his time to study the document to avoid what he described as errors, adding: “I will advise, even though I am not one of his advisers, that he goes through what has been sent to him line by line, understand whatever his advisers will tell him and of what we have sent will make the elections in 2019 better, then he signs.

“But if he discovers some provisions that will bring contradictions and controversies, he can withhold assent.

‘I’m not advocating that he withholds assent, but if he does, that is his right. I want to tell you that the APC caucus in the National Assembly stands with Mr. President on this.”

Lawan stated that should Buhari withhold assent, the amended 2006 Electoral Act could still be used for the coming elections, saying if properly implemented, the 2006 Electoral Act could deliver a much more transparent, free and fair elections next year than what was experienced in 2015.

 

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