Senate buys time on Electoral Bill

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Senators on Wednesday kept their next move on the Electoral Act (Amendment) bill close to their chests.

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On Tuesday, the lawmakers had collected signatures and vowed to override President Muhammadu Buhari  who failed to sign the bill after 30 days.

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They also suspended the passage of the 2022 appropriation bill earlier scheduled for Tuesday 22 December 2021 to further push their decision.

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Buhari had in a letter to the National Assembly, dated December 13, 2021, titled ‘Withholding of assent to Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021’ withheld his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, citing economic, security, and legal issues.

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While faulting the removal of indirect primaries as contained in Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010, Buhari said the amendment as proposed violated the underlying spirit of democracy, which is characterised by freedom of choice.

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The president also said the amendment would also stifle smaller parties without the enormous resources required to mobilise all their members for the primaries.

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This, he said was not healthy for the sustenance of multi-party democracy in Nigeria.

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During the plenary on Tuesday, many senators said reasons advanced by the president did not hold water, saying refusing to assent to the bill amounted to rejecting the will of the people.

On Wednesday, the Red Chamber, after emerging from a closed session, which lasted for about 40 minutes, resolved to consult with the House of Representatives and Nigerians on how to respond to Buhari’s decision to assent to the bill.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan, after the closed session, announced that: “The Senate discussed the way forward on how to respond to the letter from Mr President on the Electoral Act (Amendment) bill.

“The Senate consequently resolved to consult with the House of Representatives in January when the two chambers will be in full session.”

The House of Representatives suspended the plenary on Tuesday after passing the 2022 budget.

The lawmakers, according to Lawan, also resolved to consult with their constituents on the way forward, saying they have a role to play.

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