Presidency, said yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018 “due to some drafting issues that remain unaddressed following the prior revisions to the Bill”.
Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate) to the President, Senator Ita Enang, who disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, also informed that Buhari had already informed both the Senate and House of Representatives via separate communication dated has by communication dated August 30 over his decision to decline assent to the bill.
Enang stated that the explanation has become necessary I public interest and to avoid speculation and misinformation about the President’s action in view of the fact that the National Assembly is presently on vacation.
He, however, disclosed that Buhari has invited the leadership of 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”.
According to him, 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.
The presidential aide also provides some details of the provisions referenced, especially Clause 87 (14) which 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”.
Enang further stated that 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”.
He added that Section 34 states: ‘’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”.
Enang also said that Section 85 (1) states: “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”, he stressed.
He also informed that the President had since communicated the National Assembly about his action on the National Agricultural Seeds Council Bill, 2018; Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2017; Chartered Institute of Entrepreneurship (Establishment) Bill, 2018; Subsidiary Legislation (Legislative Scrutiny) Bill, 2018; National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (Establishment) Bill, 2018; National Research and Innovation Council (Establishment) Bill, 2017 and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2017, respectively.