President Muhammadu Buhari has stated why he will not assent to the amended electoral bill now.
Mr Buhari had on Friday made public his decision on the bill passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly. He declined appending his signatory to the bill sending it back to the legislative arm of government.
This was made known by Ita Enang, his aide on National Assembly matters (Senate), while addressing journalist.
Mr Enang said his principal has “taken a decision” on the bill and has communicated his decision to the National Assembly.
Stating his reason for not signing the bill, Buhari said doing so few months to the 2019 general election could cause “uncertainty and confusion.”
He stated this in a letter he sent to federal lawmakers.
“I am declining assent to the Bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general election which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process,” the president wrote in his epistle.
“Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process,” he said.
The president also asked the lawmakers to clearly state that the amended section will be effective after the 2019 general election.
“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 Election,” Buhari added.
He also pointed out other sections, as well as some terms used in the amendment bill which he felt needed to be revisited.
They include “section 5 of the Bill, amending section 18 of the Principal Act should indicate the subsection to which the substitution of the figure “30” for the figure “60” is to be affected”.
Others are: “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 that political parties may give 21 days notice of the intention to merge, as opposed to the 90 days provided in Section 84 (2) of the Electoral Act which provides the provision for merge of political parties.
“The definition of the term “Ward Collection officer” should be revised to reflect a more descriptive definition than the capitalized and undefined term “Registration Area Collation Officer.”
As it stands now, the 2019 general election will be conducted based on the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, unless two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly vote to overrule the president’s veto.