#Signatures As Group Decries Buhari’s Stance

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A showdown between the National Assembly and Presidency might be building up as some media reports hinted on Wednesday that about 73 Senators have expressed their support to override the veto of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.

On Tuesday, Buhari informed the National Assembly of his decision to withhold his assent to the much talked about Electoral Bill, which immediately sparked divergent reactions nationwide.

HEADLINENEWS reports the controversy occasioned by the mode of primary by political parties that should be officially backed by law is coming in about 14 months to the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, already scheduled for Saturday, February 18, 2023 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The president in the letter read at both chambers had said the inclusion of the direct primaries clause in the bill will have serious adverse legal and financial consequences to the conduct of election in the country.

The president argued that direct primaries cannot be accommodated as it would lead to a significant spike in the cost of conducting elections. According to him, should the clause be passed into law, it will pose a huge financial burden on political parties and INEC.

“I hereby signify to the National Assembly that I am constrained to withhold assent to the bill in line with section 58 (1) of the 1999 Constitution,” Buhari wrote.

However, the position of the president was said not to have gone down with the federal lawmakers.

Senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District, George Sekibo, during an interview with Channels Television, said some of his fellow lawmakers in the red chamber, during  a closed-door session which held on Tuesday have expressed their support to override Buhari’s Veto.

He added that a total of 73 signatures have been gathered already.

By law, the two chambers of the National Assembly are required to produce two-third majority vote before the president’s veto can be overriden.

With the Senate having a total of 109 members, the Senators have gathered over 70% majority vote according to Sekibo’s revelation.

“By law, we have the power to override him. That’s what Section 58 (4 & 5) of the 1999 Constitution says. 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 collected signatures in the chamber and it cuts across party lines,” Sekibo said.

Also, Senator representing Benue South, Abba Morro also faulted the president’s reason for rejecting the bill saying, “The reasons given by the president to withhold assent, to my view and the views of majority of senators, are not enough, because all stakeholders have acknowledged the fact that the amended electoral act, as it is today, contains fantastic provisions that could deepen democracy.

“If we reject the amended electoral bill because of direct primary, then, it will be very unfortunate. If it’s because of direct primary, the president rejected the will of the people, I can assure you that myself and my colleagues are prepared this time around to override the president.”

Meanwhile, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), a socio-political group has decried the President’s rejection of the Electoral Bill.

The group in a statement signed by its director, Mrs. Idayat Hassan and made available to Headlinenews urged the National Assembly to override the president’s veto to pass the bill into an act or remove the contentious clause rejected by the President.

According to the group, Nigeria is in dire need of a new and robust framework for the conduct of elections, as the general elections is fast approaching.

The statement partly reads, “As the election is just fourteen months away, the CDD is calling on the National Assembly to immediately toe two immediate options. Which is either veto the President and pass the Electoral Act 2021 bill into an act of the National Assembly. Or Immediately remove the provisions on direct primaries as raised by the President and immediately re-present the bill to the President for his assent.

“We must not allow a single provision truncate the goodness in the proposed electoral bill. Nigeria is in dire need of a new and robust framework for the conduct of elections. The reform in the Electoral Bill 2021 will improve the quality of elections thereby imbuing citizens trust in our democracy.

“The National Assembly as the true representative of the people must not allow the huge human and financial resources that went into the Electoral Bill 2021 – from drafting to readings at the floor, the public hearing, the committee works, the retreat, the conference committee et al to go to waste.” CDD said.

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