Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in the House of Representatives has said the Electoral Act Amendment Bill sent to President Muhammadu Buhari was an “imperfect document” capable of disenfranchising millions of Nigerians in the 2019 general election.
Led by the Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the APC members in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, who rose from a closed-door meeting of the caucus, said President Buhari’s resolve to jettison the bill was in the best interest of the Nigerian electorate.
Gbajabiamila said there was the need for Nigerians to get a better understanding of the issues at stake.
“Perhaps, a lot of people don’t understand the import and the implications of signing an imperfect document. If the document is imperfect and you can’t read it or interpret it, then you can’t even override that imperfect document. You have to first of all amend that document and start the process all over again, and send it back to the president.
“The president has done well. If you study the constitution very well and if you look at Section 57, it does not oblige him (president) to give any reason for veto. All he has to do is return it and say ‘I am withholding my assent.’ He doesn’t have to give you any reason, but every time he has done that he has brought forward cogent and verifiable reasons why he is not signing it.
“On this particular one, I believe the thrust, spirit and the reason why Mr. President has refused to sign it, which we identify with, is that every vote must count in Nigeria. We have been mouthing this thing and singing this thing for ages. This bill that was sent to the president, and we raised it on the floor at the time of consideration; the effect of it is that you can only accredit voters through the electronic system. It forecloses manual registration.
“When you do that; we were all witnesses to what happened in the last election; even the sitting president could not be accredited. So, what the president has done is to protect everybody in Nigeria.
“Yes, do your electronic accreditation, but make room for the possibility and a very strong possibility too, where such will not work. It is something that happens every day; in the banks; jammers can even be brought in to jam it; millions will be disenfranchised and you and I don’t want that.
“That is a constitutional guarantee that everybody who resides in Nigeria has a right to vote and be voted for. So, we cannot breach the constitution through amendment