By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO) has called on the National Assembly to save the nation’s democracy by immediately overriding President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
It said Buhari’s repeated refusal to sign amendments passed to check rigging in the election, raises issues of his sincerity of purpose and has the capacity to trigger political unrest and violence, which could in turn truncate the country’s democracy.
The Director of Media and Publicity of the campaign council, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said it was unfortunate that the President, in his desperation to hold on to power, has resorted to taking steps that are capable of destabilising the nation, just because the people are resolute in voting him out of office democratically.
Against this background, the PDP Campaign said that legislative action has become imperative as the President’s decision was 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, having realised that there is no way he could win in a free and fair contest.
Ologbondiyan stated, “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; for which the APC and the Buhari Presidency have been boasting of winning the 2019 elections.
“While urging the National Assembly to save our democracy and forestall an imminent electoral crisis, the PPCO also charges all political parties, other critical stakeholders and Nigerians in general, to rise in the interest of our nation and demand the entrenching of rules and processes that will guarantee the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, as nothing short of that would be accepted.”
The party said Nigerians should note that this is the fourth time President Buhari was withholding assent on the amendment, without any cogent reason following his rejection by Nigerians.
“Nigerians can recall how the Buhari 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.”
Reacting to the president’s refusal to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment bill, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, wondered why the president refused to give assent to the bill, saying all what he asked for was factored in.
He noted, “I made a statement two days ago, appealing to Mr. President to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill before him. We have made amendments and amendments. Everything he (Buhari) has asked for, we have changed it four times so that he can sign.”
“ We know there are those who are telling him not to sign. Even I heard some have gone to court so that he can use the excuse not to sign. That is a dangerous precedent.”
“He has the prerogative to sign or not to sign. In the event he does not sign, I believe as political parties, we have the right, authority to also demand from INEC in terms of engagement. Political parties can take a position. This is the type of election they want.”
“In most countries, political parties meet with the chairmen of their electoral commissions and they agree. So, some of the things that are , even if he doesn’t sign, there are things that as political parties, we can sit down with INEC and say these are what must happen. There are two major items there, particularly on this issue of Incident Form and the issue of electronic transmission of results.”