By Henry Umoru
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday for the fourth time, rejected assent to the Electoral Bill which was passed to him to sign into law by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
President Buhari who has written to the lower and Upper chamber said that he could not sign the Electoral Bill into law at this time that the country was preparing for the 2019 Presidential and general elections, adding that he could only assent to it after next year’s elections. He said that if it was done now, it would end up causing uncertainty and crisis in the land.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organization, PPCO, has charged members of the National Assembly to save the nation’s democracy by immediately overriding President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the amendment of the Electoral Act.
Signing amended Electoral Act for 2019 elections will create uncertainty, crisis – Buhari
In the letter dated 6th December, 2018 and addressed to both the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara which was received yesterday, President Buhari said that he would only sign the bill after the elections, just as he identified some aspects of the bill that should be corrected by the lawmakers.
President Buhari’s letter read, “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ( 1999 as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate my decision on 6th December, 2018 to decline assent to the Electoral( Amendment) Bill, 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.
“I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general elections which commenced under the 2015 electoral act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process. Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.
“This leads me to believe that it is in the best interest of the country and our democracy for the national assembly to specifically state in the bill that the electoral act will come into effect and be applicable to elections commencing after the 2019 elections .
President pushing Nigeria to the brink—PDP
In its reaction, the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in a statement by the Director, Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan on Friday said the legislative action has become imperative as the President’s decision is “a calculated attempt to hold the nation to ransom, inject crisis into the electoral process and ultimately scuttle the conduct of the 2019 general elections.”
The statement read in part: “President Buhari’s repeated refusal to sign amendments passed to check rigging of election, raises issues of his sincerity of purpose and has the capacity to trigger political unrest and violence, which can, in turn, truncate our hard-earned democracy.
“The PPCO invites Nigerians to note that this is the fourth time President Buhari is withholding assent on the amendment, without any cogent reason following his rejection by Nigerians.
“Nigerians can recall how the Presidency plotted to plunge the 2019 elections into a needless controversy by delaying the submission of the election budget to the National Assembly, presenting it at the time the legislators were commencing their annual vacation and asking for virement of funds already approved for development projects, instead of sending a fresh supplementary budget for the election.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President, in his desperation to hold on to power, has resorted to taking steps that are capable of destabilizing our nation, just because the people are resolute in voting him out of office democratically.
“It is also instructive to note that President Buhari is mortally afraid of the amendments because they essentially checked the All Progressives Congress, APC, rigging plans, including the use of underage and alien voters, vote-buying, alteration of results and manipulation of voter register”.