The efforts of both chambers of the National Assembly to reorder the sequence of the 2019 general elections, has come to not as President Muhammadu Buhari has vetoed the bill by withdrawing assent to it .
The two arms of the legislature had passed a Bill to amend the electoral the 2010 Electoral Act three weeks ago.
The Senate in particular had on the 14th of February 2018 in its passage of the Electoral Act Amendment bill, adopted section 25(1) inserted into it by the House of Representatives containing reordering of sequence of 2019 general elections different from the earlier one announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC.
While INEC in its own sequence of elections, fixed February 16th 2019 for Presidential and National Assembly election and March 2nd 2019 for governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections, the National Assembly in its own sequence of elections put that of the National Assembly first, followed by the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections and Presidential election last .
But president Buhari in a letter forwarded to the two chambers of the National Assembly , a copy of which was read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, specifically vetoed the bill on the 3rd of this month for reasons bordering on infractions on constitutional provisions particularly the one on new sequence of elections.
The letter titled: “Presidential Decision to withhold Assent to the ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL 2018” reads in part : ‘Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate, my decision, on 3rd March 2018, to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.
“Some of my reasons include the following: (a) The amendment to the sequence of elections in Section 25 of the principal act, may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statue to the Constitution;
” (b) The amend to Section 138 of the principal act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates, unduly limits the rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process;
“(C) The amendment to Section 152 Subsection 325 of the Principal Act may raise Constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections”
Though the letter was not in any way debated upon by the Senate yesterday but its spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi ( APC Niger North) at a media briefing after plenary, said any action that would be taken by the senate on the letter would come after the adoption of the letter into its votes and proceedings today.
” Senate has not taken any action on the letter vetoing the 2010 Electoral (Amendment) bill 2018 for now because there are processes and procedures of taken such actions .
” First, having received the letter yesterday as read on the floor by the Senate President, the next line of action would be to approve it in our votes and proceedings tomorrow ( today) after which it will be properly studied for any possible line of actions”, he said .
If the Senate and the House of Representatives eventually take the line of overriding the President on the veto, it would require 73 senators and 240 House of Representatives members to do so being the constitutional 2/3 majority required for such purpose.
It would be recalled that on the 14th of last month when the Senate passed the amendment bill, Ten senators led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu ( APC Nasarawa West) protested against it and vowed that it would not see the light of the through presidential veto which according to them ,cannot be override in the senate since 59 of them are against it.