6 December 2018

Nigeria: Sign Electoral Act Amendment Bill Now, Saraki Tells Buhari

Photo: Premium Times
National Assembly.

Abuja — Senate President Bukola Saraki wednesday joined scores of prominent Nigerians urging President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the 2018 alteration bill on Electoral Act 2010 that had been returned thrice by the president.

Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Ilorin urged the president to rise above petty politics and act without further delay in the best interest of the country and its democracy by signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 into law.

He noted that he had been inundated with telephone calls and discussions by members of the National Assembly, who expressed concern about the delay in the signing into law of the alteration bill as the one month period provided by the law for the president to sign a bill presented to him by the National Assembly is about to expire in the next few days.

He added that many of the legislators, who contacted him, were particularly disturbed that certain individuals, who are said to be chairmen of political parties, had approached the Federal High Court to stop the president from assenting to the bill.

The Senate president noted that the jaded tactic employed in the 90s to scuttle the return to democracy when groups like the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) went to court to frustrate the announcement of the results of the June 12, 1993 elections is now being adopted by some masked groups and individuals to stop the signing into law of the bill.

He urged the president to dissociate himself from the ugly antics and sign the bill, which he said has comprehensively addressed issues that usually clog the process of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.

Saraki said, "It is the prerogative of the president to either sign a bill into law or refuse it assent. He is free to exercise this prerogative the way he likes in this case. What I found surprising is a situation where some people now want to adopt a wrong tactic of abusing the court process to stall the matter. That will be unacceptable and I am sure our judiciary will rely on the lessons from the past and not allow itself to be used.

"We do not want the president to allow the setting of a bad precedent in which somebody will go to court in future to stop the passage of an appropriation bill or any essential law, which will be important to the development of the country.

"My position remains that the president, his aides, the entire country and the international community are aware that all the concerns raised by the president on the past three occasions he withheld assent to the bill have been addressed by the legislature. We bent backwards on each occasion to accommodate the wishes of the president. We started work on this law since 2016 to prevent a situation where it would become part of the election controversies.

"Every sincere commentator, observer and analyst knows that what we have done with that bill is to raise the level of transparency, credibility and acceptability of our electoral process. We made sure that the law if assented to and honestly applied by INEC and all those concerned will give us an election that will be better than what we had in 2015.

"The president should know that the survival of democracy, its development and the future of Nigeria are far more important than the ambition of any individual or party. I am using this opportunity to call on President Buhari to put a stop to this uncertainty in the political process by signing without delay the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill so as to allow INEC and the concerned parties know how to prepare for a credible process."

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