Electoral Act: National Assembly to Override President Buhari

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The Nigerian National Assembly has concluded plans to override the decision of incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari to withhold his assent to the 2018 Electoral amendment act this week on the floor of the senate.

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According to the spokesperson for the Nigerian upper House, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, the red chamber did not consider President Buhari’s reason for declining assent as tenable or acceptable and have therefore vowed to engage it adequately when plenary resumes on Tuesday.

According to the Punch Newspapers, a host of lawmakers spoke in the same vein on the issue saying they would ensure that all the amendments made to the new electoral act formed part of what the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would comply with in the conduct of the 2019 polls.

It was gathered that while most of the lawmakers have opted to override the president, his refusal to assent to the bill has caused a major division in the National Assembly across political lines.

While members of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), have expressed their support for the President, those of the opposition PDP continue to insist that there was an ulterior motive behind the withholding of assent by President Buhari.

According to the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, the matter would be discussed when the lawmakers reconvene, after which a decision would be taken on the bill.

The senator said, parliament had earlier approved the huge budget presented by INEC because provision had already been made for electronic voting as planned by INEC.

Olujimi said;

“This is because 70 per cent of the INEC budget has to do with the funding of card readers and other equipment needed for the election.

We are going back to the chamber on Tuesday to look at the reasons for the President’s rejection and we will do our best to override his assent because the Electoral Act (amendments) bill is the best thing that can happen to our election in Nigeria.

It is not only the opposition senators who would override the President. We would work on our colleagues in the ruling APC, most of whom are disgruntled that their party denied them tickets to return to the Senate.”

Another senator from the North-West geopolitical zone also corroborated the position of Olujimi, describing President Buhari’s reasons as untenable.

“It is possible that we start the process to override the President’s assent when we resume on Tuesday. I can assure you that it will be on the front burner of our proceedings. It will be a major issue and I am very sure that it is going to generate a lot of debate.

If you look at the equation these days, many of our colleagues don’t come to the National Assembly again because of campaigns. So, it is really not impossible to get two-thirds majority to override the President’s assent.

If the decision to override the President did not take place on Tuesday, it will certainly be done on Wednesday when we would enjoy the privilege of the NTA live coverage of our proceedings.” He said.

Another senator from the South-east however accused President Buhari of withholding assent because he did not want the usage of card readers in the North where a lot of Permanent Voter Card had allegedly been procured for underage voters. He stated that;

“If INEC should make use of the card reader in northern Nigeria, we would demystify their bogus claims that they have the majority of voters in that part of the country.

They can write any figure and declare it if there is no electronic accreditation of voters. The moment the ‘already-biased’ INEC officials signed the fraudulent election result sheets, we would not be able to do anything on them.”

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