A Constitutional lawyer and political analyst, Mr Wale Ogunade, on Thursday said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 in the state it was presented to him was in order.
Ogunade told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the president would have caused more harm to the nation’s polity if he had assented to the bill the way it was.
President Muhammadu Buhari, for the third time, had withheld assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018, which was passed by the National Assembly on July 24, and transmitted to the president on August 3.
The president’s decision to withhold assent for the third time was made public on Monday, Sept. 3.
Ogunade said: ”According to the presidency, the President’s refusal to assent to the Electoral bill was as a result of some lapses observed in the bill.
”Such assent may cause more damage to our growing democracy than what it is trying to avert, which was why the presidency has made necessary inputs before sending the bill back to the National Assembly.
”We hope the National Assembly will reconvene to consider and approve the necessary corrections to the amended Electoral Act, and send it back to Mr President within a short time.”
He urged the National Assembly not to override the bill, but consider the observations noted by the presidency.
”But again, if the assembly thinks otherwise, they can veto it, and of course pass it into law, but it cannot work because the situation is very dicey; if they pass the bill as it is, they may cause more harm to the nation’s democracy,” he said.
According to him, this is because the bill does not adequately take care of electronic voting and INEC’s registration of more political parties.
”I believe that the Assembly members know that re-working the bill will be good for their political careers, so, they will not veto it, ” Ogunade said.
Prof. Femi Otubanjo, a Political Scientist, in an interview with NAN, also spoke on the president’s position on the bill.
”It means we go back to status quo. The only thing the National Assembly can do is to override it, but the reality is that they cannot override it,” he said.
According to him, there are lots of politics being played and the president doesn’t want a situation where it would be interpreted that he used his office to try to influence the election.
”Once the president doesn’t sign and the period for signing expires, the legislature can override it by two-third majority, but with the politics being played at the National Assembly, I do not think they will.
”So, we can assume that the bill is dead.
”The National Assembly is not even in a position to talk about overriding the president. There is so much political tension presently, so it is not likely to be one of their priorities, ” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, said on Wednesday that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved three draft bills that would soon be forwarded to the National Assembly for passage into law.
He said the bills included review of the Constitution Alteration Bill, 2018, Electoral Act amendment Bill 2018 and the Electoral offenses Commission Bill, 2018.
According to the Minister, the electoral bills, when passed into law, will enhance the Independence of nation’s electoral body, INEC, and the commission will not be subjected to the directives or control of any authority.