Some Nigerians on Tuesday, expressed divergent opinions over “delay’’ by President Muhammadu Buhari in signing the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.
There have been calls on the president to sign the bill to avoid altering of arrangements for the 2019 elections.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had accused Buhari of deliberately delaying signing the bill to promote his hidden agenda in the elections.
The National Assembly had first amended the Electoral Act, but it was rejected by the president due to what he described as provisions inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution.
Consequently, the lawmakers expunged the affected provisions and passed a new bill which was transmitted to the president on Aug. 3 for assent.
Some of the respondents told Newsmen in Abuja that the outrage over the president’s continued holding on the bill was unnecessary, but others said there was need for him to assent to the bill speedily.
A teacher at Baze University, Abuja, Prof. Peter Ogedebe, said the president may be taking his time on the bill to ensure that what he would sign was devoid of political problems.
Ogedebe, who is the Dean of Faculty of Computing and Applied Sciences, said that since the president was still within the 30-day window of assenting to the bill, there was no need for Nigerians to be worried.
“I am sure the president has his reason for delaying it. It is likely he is still scrutinising and looking at the implications.
‘’You know there are lots of politics people are playing now. So, he might want to look at it in-depth to be sure that people at the National Assembly did not include another thing in the bill.
‘’You know once it is signed into law, it will be difficult for you to retrieve, and you know he has 30 days within which to sign it and I think he is still within the 30-day window.
“So I think we don’t need to panic,’’ he said.
He called on Nigerians to exercise patience, saying ‘’being a responsible leader, the president knows the implication of not signing the bill’’.
“We need not worry; let’s give him time to look at it and there is no need rushing since we have 30 days. I am sure he is mindful of his responsibility,” Ogedebe added.
The National Convener, Coalition of South-East Youth for Buhari, Mr Nkem Anyata-Lafia, expressed hope that the president would sign the bill.
Anyata-Lafia, who said there was still time for the bill to be considered, said activities leading to the 2019 elections had just begun to come up.
‘’The signing is within one month and let us not forget that the National Assembly is still on recess.
‘’Activities and the primaries that will lead to the general elections are between August and October, so political parties still have a window to choose who their standard-bearers will be.
‘’Between now and then, there is still time for the president to do that. So, what I will say is that people should not agitate over nothing.
‘’Definitely, this man is a proponent of change. Everything that has to do with change in the right direction, expect it from this man.
‘’Let them not disturb themselves; the president will not disappoint his admirers like us by signing that bill into law because he still has the opportunity to do that,” he said.
On his part, the Convener, Guardians of Democracy and Development, Mr Solomon Adodo, said having gone through all necessary processes, there shouldn’t be anything holding the president back from signing the bill.
He said that if there were grey areas which should be addressed, such should be identified and looked into immediately for the bill to be assented to.
‘’If there are amendments that should come into force for smooth conduct of the 2019 elections, then it should be attended to early enough.
“This is necessary so that everybody will be kept abreast of what the law says and there will be no double speak on any issue,” Adodo said.
According to him, it is not a healthy development for our democracy if we don’t have the bill signed into law.
“You know that everything about election revolves around Electoral Act and the election will be deemed free, fair and credible to the extent that it is consistent with the subsisting Electoral Act.
‘’I think that the best that should happen for the good of democracy is that the president should append his signature to the bill,” he said.
A businessman, Mr Ignatius Ayeni, urged the president to sign the bill to avert “fire brigade’’ approach to 2019 elections.
According to him, preparations by political parties, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and aspirants, for the elections are predicated on the conditions in the Electoral Act and it has to be ready to guide the process.
“It is not about partisanship; it is about sanity in the electoral process, for it to be complied with by all stakeholders; therefore, the president should assent to the bill so that all concerned will be properly guided,’’ Ayeni.
Contrary to some views, he said that it the Electoral Act amendment had delayed unnecessarily and was slowing down a lot of things in the electoral process.