President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday gave reasons why he declined assent to the Electoral Act amendment bill for the third time, saying signing it now will disrupt the 2019 general elections.
The president said in separate letters to Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara that with only few months to the 2019 General Elections, if a new electoral law comes into being, there would be a lot of uncertainty.
Buhari had twice rejected the amendment made to the 2010 Electoral Act – on March 13 and the second time on September 3 – with the request that certain things be done on the proposal.
“Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect to which law governs the electoral process. This leads me to believe that it is in the best interest of the country and our democracy for the National Assembly to specifically state in the Bill, that the Electoral Act will come into effect and be applicable to elections commencing after the 2019 General Elections,” Buhari said in the letters dated December 6, 2018.
The president also made observations on some technicalities contained in the bill, saying Section 5 of the bill, which seeks to amend Section 18 of the principal Act should indicate the subsection to which the substitution of the figure “30” or the figure ”60”is to be effected.
“Section 11 of the bill, amending Section 36, should indicate the subsection in which the proviso is to be introduced.
“Section 24 of the bill, which amends Section 85 (1) should be redrafted in full as the introduction of the “electing” to the sentence may be interpreted to mean the political parties may give 21 days’ notice of the intention to merge, as opposed to the 90 days provided in Section 87 (2) of the Electoral Act, which provides the provision for merger of political parties.
“The definition of the term ‘Ward Collection Officer’ should be revised to reflect a more descriptive definition than the capitalised and undefined term “Registration Area Collation Officer.”’
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO) in a statement by its Director,Media and Publicity, Mr Kola Ologbondiya, called on the National Assembly to save the nation’s democracy by overriding President Buhari’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.