Senators Move To Override Buhari On Electoral Bill

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Senators Move To Override Buhari On Electoral Bill
Senators Move To Override Buhari On Electoral Bill

The refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 has triggered a major spat with the National Assembly.

Senators who are angry over the bill’s veto have started collecting signatures to override the president’s veto, it was learned yesterday.

A large number of senators from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) teamed up to protest the President’s decision, bringing political disagreements to a halt.

The refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 has triggered a major spat with the National Assembly.

Senators who are angry over the bill’s veto have started collecting signatures to override the president’s veto, it was learned yesterday.

A large number of senators from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) teamed up to protest the President’s decision, bringing political disagreements to a halt.

Senators asserted that they were elected by Nigerians to make laws, not governors, whose interests the President seemed to be catering to.

READ ALSO: Buhari Writes NASS On Refusal To As­sent Electoral Act Amend­ment Bill

As Senate President Ahmad Lawan read President Buhari’s letter alerting them of the withholding of assent, there was indignation.
Shortly after the Upper Chamber rose from its Executive Session at 11.40 a.m., Lawan revealed the contents of the President’s letter.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, however, stated that the Lower Chamber will respond to the President’s explanation in January of the next year.

In a letter headed “Withholding of Assent to Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021,” Buhari stated that, aside from the legal, financial, economic, and security ramifications of direct primary elections, the mode is vulnerable to corruption and monetisation, which might suffocate smaller parties.

He claimed that manipulations are common in direct primaries.

The President also stated that choosing a flag bearer through a direct primary is democratic.

Buhari added: “I am constrained to withhold assent to the Electoral Act (amendment) in view of the reasons already adduced”.

He further stated that his decision was made in accordance with Sections 58(1 and 4) of the Constitution of 1999. (as amended).

The President advised lawmakers against interfering in political parties’ internal problems.

Many senators have signed a special register to allow the bill to become law without presidential approval.

The proposed override and the passage of the 2022 Budget were scheduled for debate on the Order Paper.

The Senate leadership attempted to moderate the situation during the Executive Session, according to sources, but senators indicated a battle line was created between them and the forces behind the presidential veto, particularly governors.

Some senators, clearly enraged, claimed it was clear that the President had broken his word on what he had discussed with National Assembly leaders.

A list was circulated around after the session for senators to declare their interest in overriding the President, it was learned.

Senators from both the APC and the PDP are said to have endorsed the plan by signing the register to overcome the veto.

Senate President Lawan and a few key officers, on the other hand, attempted to control the situation.

One option available to Senate leadership was to defuse tensions by deferring consideration on the President’s veto until January 2022.

The National Assembly, on the other hand, was tense during plenary.

Last night, the debate was over whether to use Section 58 (1-5) of the 1999 Constitution to overturn the President’s decision.

Section 58 (5) of the 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.”

Rep. Ndudi Elumelu, the House Minority Leader, urged his colleagues to take a critical look at the President’s position before the holiday break.

He went on to say that postponing it till the House resumes plenary next year may be too late since the law may be too near to party primaries.

Nigerians, according to Elumelu, are waiting for lawmakers to take a position on the Bill and educate them.

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