Veto president if he declines assent to electoral bill, CSOs urge lawmakers
No truth in rumoured return of the bill to N’ Assembly, says presidency
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the National Assembly to veto President Muhammadu Buhari, should he decline assent to the 2021 electoral bill currently before him.
The CSOs, who made this call in Abuja, yesterday, include Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre (IPC), Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD), Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).
The Presidency, on November 19, 2021, acknowledged receipt of the Electoral Bill 2021 from the National Assembly.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, CCD’s Executive Director, David Anyaele, said it was wrong for the President to delay assent to a bill designed to encourage increased citizens’ participation in the electoral process, just to please a small group of people that mean no good for the country.
On his part, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, said: “In their consideration of the bill, these officeholders should be guided by the overriding public interest, to strengthen our electoral process and consolidate our democracy.
“It is our firm belief that the bill, in its current state, will not only encourage increased citizens’ participation in the electoral process, it will also enhance the capacity of the democratic institutions to improve transparency and legitimacy of electoral outcomes.”
He added: “President Muhammadu Buhari must continue to pursue and honour his commitment to bequeath to Nigerians an electoral system that guarantees the conduct of credible, inclusive and peaceful elections.
“Further amendments to the Electoral Bill 2021 by the National Assembly should be undertaken in the next electoral cycle based on a real and perceived gap identified in the implementation of the current bill.”
MEANWHILE, the Presidency, yesterday, said there was no iota of truth in rumours making the round that the bill had been returned to the National Assembly.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Mr. Umar El-Yakub, in a chat with The Guardian, said his principal was yet to take a stand on whether to assent or withdraw assent to the legislation.
The Kano born politician who frowned at those peddling such rumours maintained that President Buhari would not circumvent laid down rules and regulations on matters relating to a bill of national importance like the Electoral Amendment Act Bill.
He explained: “The President has a reputation for adhering to due process. There is no way the President would return any bill including the Electoral Act Amendment Bill to the National Assembly through the back door.
“When this bill was transmitted to the President, recently, it was not a hidden secret. Same way, it will be in the public domain whenever the President takes a final stand on the bill.”