By Toby Prince
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claims President Muhammadu Buhari’s desperation to hold unto power prompted his refusal to assent the Electoral Act.
The president for the fourth time withheld his assent to the bill on Friday.
The PDP said “this legislative action has become imperative, as the President’s decision is a calculated attempt to hold the nation to ransom, inject crisis into the electoral process and ultimately scuttle the conduct of next year’s general elections, seeing that there is no way he can win in a free and fair contest.”
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party noted that Buhari’s repeated refusal to sign amendments passed to check rigging in the election raises issues of his sincerity of purpose and has the capacity to trigger political unrest and violence, which can, in turn, truncate the country’s democracy.
It urged Nigerians “to note that this is the fourth time Buhari is withholding assent on the amendment without any cogent reason.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President, in his desperation to hold on to power, has resorted to taking steps that are capable of destabilising our nation, just because the people are resolute in voting him out of office democratically.”
While urging the National Assembly to save the country’s democracy and forestall an imminent electoral crisis, the PDP also charged all political parties, other critical stakeholders and Nigerians in general to rise in the interest of the country and demand the entrenching of rules and processes that would guarantee the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, as nothing short of that would be accepted.
In a remark earlier yesterday, Senate President Bukola Saraki lamented the failure of the President to sign the Bill.
He, however, charged political parties to meet with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and demand from the commission, terms of engagement in the general elections.
Saraki said: “I made a statement two days ago appealing to Mr. President over the Electoral Act Amendment Bill before him. We have made amendments and amendments. Everything he (Buhari) has asked for, we have changed it four times, so that he can sign.
“We know there are those who are telling him not to sign. I even heard some have gone to court, so that he can use the excuse not to sign. That is a dangerous precedent. He has the prerogative to sign or not to sign.
He insisted that the political parties have the right and authority to demand from INEC, the terms of engagement.