Electoral Act: Buhari Rejects Direct Primary …As Senators move to override Buhari.

President Muhammad Buhari
President Muhammad Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has responded to the 2021 electoral act amendment bill sent to him by the National Assembly for his assent, rejecting the clause that provided for direct primary to be conducted by political parties.

In a letter forwarded to the Senate and read in plenary on Tuesday, the President, cited series of reasons bordering on Security , economy , finance and existing Constitutional provisions of Political parties , for refusing assent on the bill as far as the recommended mandatory Direct  primary for all political parties was concerned in picking their candidates for general elections

Days stipulated by law for Buhari to sign or decline his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 expired last Sunday which brought uneasy calm within the National Assembly and the Presidency

National Assembly

Strong indication emerged Tuesday that the Senate may override President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal of assent to the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 in plenary Wednesday.

Setting the stage for the action,  Senator George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East), called for closed door Session in the mid of plenary  on Tuesday which lasted for 40 minutes but no categorical decision taken thereafter  by the  Senate which hurriedly adjourned to Wednesday.

Expressing his anger to journalists after the plenary, Sekibo said about 73 signatures of aggrieved Senators have been collected  and  that there is no going back on the decision to overide Buhari.

“By law, we have the power to override him. That’s what section 58 (4 & 5) said. 

“We will use our powers to do it. And they are saying that people must be present at voting. 

“Our rule gives us three methods of voting. Voice vote, by signing the document (signature) and electronic voting. So we can use anyone. 

“We have already collected signatures totalling about 73 now in and outside the  Chamber and it cuts across party lines,” he said.

Confirming the move in a separate interview, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South), said the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly , must extricate itself from public odium refusal of assent slammed on it by overriding the veto.

He said: “We must be reminded that members of the National Assembly are truly the representatives of the people because every Federal Constituency and Senatorial District seat is allocated to a segment of the Nigerian people who are their constituents. 

“The members of the National Assembly consulted  with a cross section of their constituents to reach an informed position on any matter of national interest and development.  

“The issue of Direct Primaries in our electoral process has been well canvassed, elucidated, and argued  by both Chambers of the NASS, and inputs were taken at public hearing from across the spectrum of all critical stakeholders. 

“Both Chambers passed the Bill with some little variations in some sections which consequently  necessitated the setting up of a Conference committee of five members each from both Chambers.  At the end of all the deliberations, Direct primary was agreed upon.

“The time has come when only popular candidates within the party should be thrown up  for general  elections. General elections in this way will become easier and less cumbersome for parties to win since they have truly popular candidates. 

“As we speak today, the whole world has become a global village.  Nigeria should endeavour to  revolutionise its electoral system as to avert bickering and unnecessary disputation that come with nominations or party primaries. 

“In Chile, Gabriel Boric, a thirty five years old former student activist has won the run off in the Presidential election because he was truly popular and supported by the people.

“Less than two hours into counting of the ballots his much older opponent congratulated him and urged all his compatriots to support his  incoming government.  

“Nigeria must take a queue by allowing genuine inclusiveness  particularly our young people who are in excess of sixty percent of our population. All the devious designs to exclude them  will not help us.

“I urge my colleagues in the National Assembly to do the needful  by overriding the veto and make the bill, law. This is not the first time it is happening in Nigeria.  

“The NDDC Bill of 2001 was vetoed by NASS under Obasanjo who was a PDP president. The NASS should extricate itself from public odium and disrespect by going ahead to override President Buhari who is APC. History stares NASS in the face if indeed it is not a rubber stamp.”

Many other Senators who pleaded anonymity strongly expressed their readiness to override President Buhari on the rejected bill.

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