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Electoral Bill: APC scuttled Electoral Act Amendment for fear of 2023 – PDP

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.As Senate makes u-turn, fails to override President’s veto

.Remove provisions on direct primaries -CDD urges NASS

.Resign now, you’ve failed, CSOs tell Gbajabiamila

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of scuttling the signing of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

The President had on Tuesday written to the National Assembly, explaining to the lawmakers why he withhold assent to the Electoral Act.

 

Blaming the APC for President Buhari’s action, the PDP said that the ruling party did it because some key provisions in the Bill will not allow its grand design to rig the 2023 general elections.

 

PDP, in a statement by its spokesman, Debo Ologunagba said that “It is instructive to recall that the APC has been in trepidation of the amendment to the Electoral Act, due mainly to the provision of electronic transmission of election results, which will completely eliminate APC’s manipulations and alteration of results at elections.

 

“It is apparent that the APC and the Buhari Presidency were never committed to the amendment of the Electoral Act to ensure credible elections and as such triggered the controversy of the mode of primaries by political parties as camouflage to scuttle the entire Amendment Bill including provisions for electronic transmission of results among others.

 

“It is imperative to remind Nigerians of how the APC, in collusion with their leaders in the National Assembly fought hard to stop the electronic transmission of results provision in the Bill but were resisted by Nigerians supported by the courageous action of the PDP Caucus in the House of Representatives which staged a walkout only for the APC to orchestrate controversies and set the stage for the withholding of assent by Mr President.”

 

The PDP said that the main reason for the manipulation of the legislative process by the APC is to prevent the electronic transmission of results so that it can continue in its culture of rigging and electoral impunities including alteration of results at collation, ballot box snatching, destruction of data among others; just to cling to power against the will of Nigerians.

 

“Such is consistent with the APC’s well-known machination against every genuine effort to instill credible, transparent, free and fair elections in Nigeria in the last six years. The APC thrives in the electoral scam, duplicity, underhand dealings, violence and political brigandage, all in their heinous script to put Nigerians under perpetual bondage.

 

 

“Having been rejected for its failures and having also self-decimated its structure across the country, the APC has completely lost the capacity and goodwill for electoral contest and as such seeks every means to subvert any process that can guarantee credible elections in 2023,” the PDP said.

 

The subversion of the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by the APC, the party said has further validated the fact that the APC is averse to the aspiration of Nigerians and does not believe in democratic principles of credible elections.

 

“Our party, therefore, calls on all Nigerians, Civil Society Organizations, the International Community and all lovers of democracy across the world to rise up and put appropriate pressure on the APC-led National Assembly to immediately do the needful so as to safeguard our democracy by ensuring that the basic principles of the transparent, credible, free and fair mode of conducting elections are guaranteed and sustained by law,” the PDP said.

 

The party cautioned the APC to note that no matter their machination, Nigerians are determined to pursue the electronic transmission of election results to its logical conclusion and that there is no going back in their resolve to vote out the APC in 2023.

Meanwhile, the Senate on Wednesday failed to override the President’s veto on the 2010 Electoral Act (amendments) Bill 2021. The red chamber made the u-turn when members emerged from a 40-minute closed session.

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, explained after the executive session that the upper chamber had decided to consult with members of the House of Representatives on the matter.

 

He said since the House had gone on recess and the constitution prescribes that both chambers should take a joint decision on the matter, it would be proper for them to wait till January before any action could be taken.

 

Lawan also said the Senate in the closed session agreed that members should consult with their constituencies who are critical stakeholders in the electoral process.

 

The Senate had on Tuesday, adjourned plenary till today (Wednesday), to enable them to override the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on the 2010 Electoral Act (amendments) Bill 2021.

 

An investigation by our correspondent had revealed that the federal lawmakers agreed to vote on the matter on resumption of plenary today.

 

The senators who spoke off and on the record said they were not satisfied with the conditions given by the President to withhold assent to the Electoral Bill.

 

 

 

Buhari’s position was conveyed in a letter addressed to the Senate President which was read during the start of the plenary after the chamber came out from its first closed session.

 

The closed session which lasted for 37 minutes started at exactly 10:44 am and ended at 11:21 am.

 

President Buhari in the letter dated December 13, 2021, explained that his decision to withhold assent to the electoral bill was informed by advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government after a thorough review.

 

According to the President, signing the bill into law would have serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences on the country, particularly in view of Nigeria’s peculiarities.

 

He added that it would also impact negatively on the rights of citizens to participate in the government as constitutionally ensured.

 

The Senate later dissolved into a closed session at 1:57 pm on Tuesday to discuss the reasons given by the President, for declining assent to the 2010 Electoral Act (amendments) Bill 2021.

 

The Senator representing Rivers East, George Sekibo, raised a point of order asking the Senate to go to a closed session to discuss the issue.

 

 

The Senate President sustained Sekibo’s point of order and the closed session commenced by 1.57 pm

 

Also, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has called on the National Assembly to immediately remove the provisions on direct primaries as raised by President  Mohammad Buhari.

 

CDD’ s Director, Idayat Hassan, in a statement in Abuja said the  call became imperative against the backdrop of President Mohammad Buhari’s decision to decline assent to the Electoral Bill 2021.

Hassan also urged the National Assembly to thereafter re-present the bill to the President for his assent.

She said that the National Assembly should redeem the situation to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.

“As the election is just 14 months away, the CDD is calling on the National Assembly to immediately toe two immediate options.

“Which is either veto the President and pass the Electoral Act 2021 bill into an act of the National Assembly ,or immediately remove the provisions on direct primaries as raised by the President and immediately re-present the bill to the President for his assent. ‘’

Hassan said that “We must not allow a single provision truncate the goodness in the proposed electoral bill.’’

According to her, Nigeria is in dire need of a new and robust framework for the conduct of elections.

She added that the reform in the Electoral Bill 2021 would improve the quality of elections thereby imbuing citizen’s trust in our democracy.

Hassan said that the  National Assembly as the true representative of the people should  not allow the huge human and financial resources that went into the Electoral Bill 2021 to waste .

This she said was from drafting to readings at the floor, the public hearing, the committee works, the retreat, the conference committee among others.

“The National Assembly must act, and the time is now,save our elections and our democracy, ’she said

However, As Nigerians continue to react to the executive veto of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021, Civil Society Partners on Electoral Reform have asked the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to step down, accusing him of betraying Nigerians and allegedly using the House to serve “personal and narrow political interest.”

 

They said the action of the Speaker in quickly passing the 2022 Appropriation Bill and adjourning the House to next year, amounted to a betrayal of trust and arm-twisting of the Senate to stop further action on the Bill even when the red chamber was ready to do more.

 

Electoral Bill: Over 73 senators signed and ready to override Buhari’s veto – Lawmaker

The CSOs recalled that the Senate had passed a version of the Electoral Bill that accommodated the two choices of party primaries, but wondered why Gbajabiamila who singlehandedly led the National Assembly and Nigerians into adopting and appreciating the importance of the direct primaries, will be the first to chicken out.

 

According to the statement signed by Ariyo-Dare Atoye, the Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative; Ken Eze of Speak Out Africa Initiative; Jude Feranmi of Raising New Voices, and Obinna Eze Nwagbara, Executive Director, Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative, the CSOs said they had expected some legislative activism in the House over the President’s letter, but that the Speaker made it impossible.

 

“We wish to ask Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila some salient questions: why did you make the entire country to buy into the idea of the direct primaries in the first place? Is this a conspiracy with the President to scuttle the entire electoral bill or the fear of the executive?

 

“Remember the exclusive retention of direct primaries in the electoral act was first his idea, so why did Speaker Gbajabiamila deliberately refuse to consult the Senate to take a common position before adjourning over such a sensitive bill that has enjoyed the cooperation and support of the two chambers? In whose interest is the Speaker acting?

 

“Nigerians have lost total confidence in Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. This is the time for him to step down and stop using national legislative business to serve narrow partisan interest.

 

“We urge members of the 9th House of Representatives to redeem themselves from the narrow hold of the Speaker,” they said.

 

 

The CSOs, however, commended the Senate for showing the determination to give the President’s action a fight, adding that the National Assembly has the backing and mandate of Nigerians to override the President or take any action that will make the amended Electoral Bill becomes law.

 

“Against the expectations of many Nigerians, the Senate demonstrated courage and has shown that they are with the people on this bill and we shall continue to encourage them.

 

“The excuses given by President Muhammadu Buhari in his withholding letter are watery, shallow and suspect. The letter may have exposed the President as capable of using insecurity not to conduct the 2023 elections.

 

“Nigerians must be prepared to fight and salvage this democracy,” the CSOs stated.

 

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