Buhari rejects electoral bill, says imposing direct primaries on parties will heat up polity

by Area Talk

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent to the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill, stating that signing it into law would cause trouble among the political parties in the country.

It was gathered that the letter of rejection of the bill, which is before the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, will be read on Tuesday at plenary.

The letter from Mr. President indicates that President Buhari refused to sign the bill, citing the direct primaries as approved by the National Assembly for picking candidates by political parties in the amended Electoral Act as dangerous to the polity.

According to a source, the President refused assent to it against the backdrop that the parties have their various constitutions that indicate that primaries should be conducted either directly or indirectly.

And until such provisions are amended, asking parties to do that through direct means would mean forcing the parties to conduct primaries through direct means which, according to President Buhari, amounts to abuse of the constitution of the party.

The source said: “With all these reasons given by the President, he has returned the bill to the National Assembly, asking the lawmakers to look at the clause that has to do with direct primaries by political parties, work on it and return the document for assent.

There are strong indications that the Senate will be turbulent as the Senators will take a decision on the growing uncertainty in the political atmosphere as the 30 days’ deadline for President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Bill elapsed on Sunday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Senator said: “We have the number to override Buhari’s veto.

“But with Senator Lawan, as the President of the Senate, it will be difficult because he operates the Senate as an extension of the Presidency.”

On his part, Senator Matthew Urhoghide(PDP, Edo South) who spoke with NAN, urged the National Assembly to extricate itself from what he described as public odium and disrespect by going ahead to override President Buhari who is All Progressives Congress, APC, just as he said that history stares NASS in the face if indeed it is not a rubber stamp.

Senator Urhoghide said: “We must be reminded that members of the National Assembly are truly the representatives of the people because every constituency and senatorial district seat is allocated to a segment of the Nigerian people who are their constituents.

“The members of the National Assembly consulted with a cross section of their constituents to reach an informed position on any matter of national interest and development.

“The issue of direct primaries in our electoral process has been well canvassed, elucidated, and argued by both chambers and inputs were taken at public hearing from across the spectrum of all critical stakeholders.

“The bane has always been that the greater majority of party members do not have the privilege or right to choose who becomes the party candidate in an election.

“Hitherto, it was the exclusive preserve of the power holders or deep pockets who would always want to control the party.

“The time has come when only popular candidates within the party should be thrown up for general elections.”

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