President Muhammadu Buhari has literally set the nation on fire as he finally withheld his assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 passed by the National Assembly.
His action is not going down well with the National Assembly, Peoples Democratic Party and over 45 opposition political parties under the aegis of the Coalition of United Political Parties.
Also, some prominent Senior Advocates of Nigeria have all kicked against Buhari’s action which they find difficult to comprehend.
The President had earlier on Friday announced his decision to withhold his assent to the crucial electoral bill which the National Assembly transmitted to him on November 7.
The controversial bill has been returned to the National Assembly after the President refused to sign it the fourth time.
The President had earlier rejected it for the third time and returned it to the legislature on August 30.
Confirming Buhari’s latest decision in Abuja, his Senior Special Assistant, National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said the President gave his reasons in a letter to the National Assembly.
Enang, a member of the All Progressives Congress from Akwa Ibom State, merely said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has taken decision on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 in accordance with his power under the 1999 Constitution and has communicated that decision to the Senate and the House of Representatives in accordance with the law.”
He added that Buhari acted within the law, which compels him to communicate his decision to the National Assembly.
Enang noted, “The President has taken a decision in accordance with the powers vested in him by the constitution. And by convention that decision contained in the communication can only be revealed by the person to whom that decision is addressed.
“But the electoral bill has left Mr President because he has taken a decision and has remitted it back.”
According to Saturday PUNCH findings, Buhari made the withdrawal known in a letter to the Senate and the House of Representatives, which was addressed to the President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, respectively.
It read, “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate/House of Representatives, my decision on 6th December, 2018, to decline presidential 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 general elections.”
Buhari also raises some drafting issues, calling for insertion and deletion of some words.
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