By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) bill 2018 forwarded to him by the National Assembly.
This was disclosed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang, yesterday while briefing State House Correspondents at the Presidential Villa.
Enang said the President had officially communicated his position to the leadership of both chambers of the parliament.
It would recalled that the President had earlier rejected the bill on the ground that the proposal for the reversal of the sequence of elections were objectionable.
This latest rejection would be the second time on the basis of technicalities.
The Presidential liaison officer explained that he resolved to make the matter public while the lawmakers were still on recess in order to guide against speculations and misinformation.
Enang, who said that the President had in the past communicated his position to the lawmakers in similar manner on seven bills before said “Mr. President is declining assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill due to some drafting issues that remain unaddressed following the prior revisions to the Bill.’’
Mr. President invites the Senate and House of Representatives to address these issues as quickly as possible so that he may grant President Assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill.
A few of the outstanding issues are: There is a cross referencing error in the proposed amendment to Section 18 of the Bill. The appropriate amendment is to substitute the existing sub-section (2) with the proposed subsection (1A), while the proposed sub-section (1B) is the new sub-section (2A) ‘’The proposed amendment to include a new Section 87 (14) which stipulates a specific period within which political party primaries are required to be held has the unintended consequence of leaving INEC with only 9 days to collate and compile lists of candidates and political parties as well manage the primaries of 91 political parties for the various elections.
“This is because the Electoral Amendment Bill does not amend sections 31, 34 and 85 which stipulates times for the submission of lists of candidates, publication of lists of candidates and notice of convention, congresses for nominating candidates for elections.
“For clarity, may I provide some details of the provisions referenced.
Clause 87 (14) states ‘’The dates for the primaries shall not be earlier than 120 days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.
The Electoral Act 2010 referred to herein states; in Section 31: ‘’That every Political Party shall not later than 60 days before the date appointed for a general election submit to the Commission
the list of candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections. Section 34:
‘’That the Commission shall at least 30 days before the day of the election publish a statement of the full names and addresses of all candidates standing nominated.
Section 85 (1) “That a Political Party shall give the Commission at least Twenty-one days’ notice of any convention, congress etc., for electing members of its executive committees or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices.
“For the avoidance of doubt, neither the Constitution nor any written law allows a President or a Governor to whom a Bill is forwarded by the Legislature to edit, correct, amend or in any manner alter the provisions of any such Bill to reflect appropriate intent before Assenting to same. He is to ASSENT in the manner it is or to withhold assent.”