BusinessDay

Buhari still scrutinising electoral amendment bill – Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari is still reviewing the recently passed Electoral Amendment Bill with his legal team, eight days to the 30 days’ window allowed under the constitution for him to sign the bill into law, the Presidency said on Monday.

The bill which was passed recently was sent to the President for his assent on the 31st of January.

The delay in assenting to the bill has attracted reactions from concerned stakeholders who urged the President to sign the bill as it gives directions to the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) in the conduct of elections, especially the 2023 general elections.

The bill which was earlier passed by the National Assembly, was rejected by the President over disputes on a direct mode of primary election enshrined in the bill by the National Assembly

It was returned, reworked and returned to the President based on stakeholders’ “agreement” to amend the relevant offensive parts of the initial bill.

Issues addressed in the new bill include the controversy over direct and indirect primary election methods. The direct primary allows all approved registered members of a party to vote for who they want to be the candidate of their party in the main elections

On the other hand, the indirect primary election allows only delegates selected by the party to decide who will be the party’s candidate.

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A third clause was, however, added to the new amendment which is the consensus, which allows the party to select those they want without necessarily subjecting it to the election process

But in a statement on Monday, Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina said the President still has enough time before the 30 days window provided by the constitution for his assent.

Adesina, however, noted that some interest groups are cashing in on what they consider a delay in the signing of the Electoral Bill into law “to foment civil disorder and muddy the waters”

The Presidency, however, failed to name the group, but assured that “the right thing will be done at the right time”

According to him, “One can just pity their ignorance of constitutional requirements, as the President has a window of 30 days within which to sign the bill, or decline assent, after it had been transmitted to him by the National Assembly.

“It is on record that the amended bill was sent to the Presidency on January 31, 2022, which means that the executive could do due diligence on it till March 1, as prescribed by the constitution.

He posited that the “proposed legislation that has to do with the electoral fortunes of the country needs to be thoroughly scrutinized, and be made as near-perfect as possible.

“Those playing cheap politics with it are, therefore, encouraged to hold their peace, knowing that the right thing will be done within the lawful time”

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