Buhari: Why I Refused to Sign Electoral Bill

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Muhammadu Buhari

President’s refusal to sign bill threat to nation’s existence, says Wike

By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

President Muhammadu Buhari has written the Senate, explaining why he refused to assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.

Buhari’s clarification is coming as the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that his refusal to sign the amended Electoral Act is a threat to the country’s existence as it will generate deadly political tension in 2019.

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, read the president’s letter at yesterday’s plenary.

Buhari’s letter to the senators reads: “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  December 6, 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.”

Continuing, Buhari explains, “It is also important for the following drafting amendments to be made to the Bill:

”A. Section 5 of the Bill, amending section 18 of the Principal Act should indicate the subsection to which the substitution of the figure ’30” for the figure “60” is to be effected.”

“B. Section 11 of the Bill, amending Section 36 should indicate the subsection in which the provision is to be introduced.

“C. Section 24 of the Bill which amends Section 85(1) should be redrafted in full as the introduction of the “electing” to the sentence may be interpreted to mean that the political parties may give 21 days’ notice of the .. intention to merge, as opposed to the 90 days provided in Section 84(2) of the Electoral Act which provides the provision for merger of political parties.”

“D. The definition of the term “Ward Collection Officer” should be revised to reflect a more descriptive definition than the capitalized and undefined term “Registration Area Collation Officer.”

The President concluded his letter with greeting to the lawmakers: “Please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

After Saraki finished reading the President’s letter, Senate Leader moved that all items on the Order Paper be stood down to another legislative day.

Minority Leader seconded the motion and the plenary adjourned to Wednesday, December 12, 2018.

Meanwhile, Wike, has declared that the refusal of President Buhari to sign bill is a threat to the nation’s existence as it will generate deadly political tension in 2019.

The governor also declared that the essence of not signing the Electoral Act by Buhari was for him to rig the 2019 elections.

Wike spoke at the Government House, Port Harcourt yesterday during the visit of the Anglican Bishop of Niger Delta North, Rt. Rev. Wisdom Ihunwo.

“This present administration does not want the existence of one Nigeria. We don’t know if there will be Nigeria after the 2019 General elections.

“The National Assembly tried to cure the defects of the Electoral Act that led to controversies during the 2015 elections. After the passage, the President kept on giving countless excuses why he wouldn’t sign the amended Electoral Act.

“The whole essence of not signing the Electoral Act is to rig the 2019 General elections. And in the plot to rig the 2019 elections, Rivers State comes first and Akwa Ibom State is the second on their list,” Wike explained.