It has emerged that President Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent to the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
According to multiple sources quoted by news agencies, the president in a letter despatched to the Senate on Monday to be read on the last day of plenary on Tuesday (tomorrow) cited likely crises in political parties if he should sign the bill.
He explained that he will not take away the powers of political parties to decide their affairs especially on how they conduct their primaries.
THE WHISTLER could not confirm the receipt of the letter at the Senate President’s office with multiple aides refusing to comment on the controversial matter.
But an emerging report say the president also mentioned existing constitution of political parties to guide the conduct of their affairs hence no need to take away that power from them.
Conclusively, the president was quoted to have said the extant laws guiding political parties on how to conduct their affairs must be repealed before an amendment to the electoral act compelling parties to use direct primaries can become law.
Yet, it’s what the new amendment to the electoral act seeks to do, by compelling political parties to adopt primaries to elect candidates, which by implication means that political parties will amend their constitutions to comply with the electoral act.
In other words, political parties that have kicked against the amendment will be happy that it was not signed into law, stopping them from ever making such an amendment to respective constitutions.
It begs the question, which comes first, the chicken or the eggs?
But the reports quoted sources as saying, “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.
Speaking further, the source, a lawmaker, 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.”
Senator Matthew Urhoghide, PDP Edo South, told journalists when the news broke that, “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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