Electoral Act Bill: Group urges National Assembly to deploy veto power if President denies assent
Worried by the continued delay in assenting the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, a civil society group on Monday challenged the National Assembly to deploy their full constitutional power of veto, if the president refused to sign the bill.
The National Assembly passed the Electoral Amendment Act 2021 on November 9, 2021, and subsequently transmitted the same to the presidency for assent.
Incidentally, the executive arm of government is yet to act on the Amendment Bill, a few days to the expiration of 30 days window period after which the National Assembly is constitutionally empowered to veto the bill.
Besides, the group under the aegis of Organisation for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN), insisted the presidency has no justification to continue foot-dragging on the bill which, they believe would bring a solution to electoral challenges bedeviling the nation’s policy.
Addressing a press conference yesterday in Kano, OCCEN Executive Director, Abdulrazaq Alkali, who applauded the commitment of the National Assembly for concluding legislative work on the Amendment Bill, alleged possible sabotage against the actualisation of the Act.
Specifically, Alkali hailed the adoption of direct primary as a form of candidate selection in the party system which he believed would enhance transparency in the nomination of candidates and eliminate godfatherism. He lamented that the present indirect system has not only denied female candidates chances but also crippled the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ Act.
Alkali worried that in the event of denying assent, President Muhammad Buhari may have placed more priority on few powerful political blocks that are being threatened by the possibility of losing the power of imposition in the party when the bill is eventually signed into law.
He said OCCEN is fully backing the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and another civil society group in their recent letter written to the Presidency, asking the executive not to yield to pressure from state governors and other selfish politicians opposing the signing of the bill.
“Unfortunately, with only a few days left to the deadline, the president is yet to assent on the bill and has been foot-dragging and unjustifiably delaying on the bill. Nigerians should be worried about this development because it appears that the president is listening and giving priority to some powerful politicians.
“Sadly, this is an issue is taking a similar approach, how the president ignores the bill and left Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the poll with 2010 Electoral Act. The president needs to put aside the selfish interest of a category of politicians and focus on what is in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“It is imperative that the president should demonstrate courage and leadership to uphold and protect our democracy. It is understood that the president has written to INEC seeking advice regarding the Electoral Amendment Bill. However, this seems like tactics adopted by the presidency to reject the bill. But the president should understand that history will not forgive him if he refused to assent on the bill,” Alkali said.