The continuous veto of the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari, who appears to be preoccupied at the moment with his re-election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is currently causing some serious concern in the polity.
Despite repeated assurances by President Buhari that the seeming uncertain 2019 elections would be free and fair, some key political gladiators in the country are beginning to doubt the president and his party, the APC, alleging a hidden agenda.
Already, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO) is busy bombing their principal targets, claiming that Buhari/APC in their desperation to hold on to power, have unfortunately resorted to taking steps that are capable of destabilising ‘’our nation, just because the people are resolute in voting them out of office democratically’’.
According to the PDP, ‘’the Buhari Presidency plotted to plunge the 2019 elections into a needless controversy by delaying the submission of the election budget to the National Assembly, presenting it at the time the legislators were commencing their annual vacation and asking for virement of funds already approved for development projects, instead of sending a fresh supplementary budget for the election’’.
The Director of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in-charge of Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, who made their position known in Abuja, the country’s capital, said the party has charged the Legislative arm of the Federal Government to save Nigeria’s shaky democracy by immediately overriding President Buhari’s refusal to sign the amended Electoral Act.
The PDP says 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 the 2019 general elections, seeing that there is no way he can win in a free and fair contest.
President Buhari once again, declined to assent to the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill. The withholding of his assent to the bill has made it the fourth time he has returned it to the National Assembly.
Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang, had in the previous rejection of the bill explained that it was due to errors discovered by the President. But while speaking on the matter on Friday, Enang said the President in line with the Constitution has communicated his decision and returned the bill to the National Assembly.
He was not categorical on whether Buhari rejected the bill. Enang whose return bid to the Senate in 2015 was aborted by Godswill Akpabio, then the governor of Akwa Ibom State, said ‘’it’s the National Assembly that can reveal the content of the communication’’.
He however, pointed out that his principal has signed the National Open University Bill into law. ‘’President Muhammadu Buhari has taken decision on Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018. In accordance with his power under the 1999 Constitution and has communicated that decision to the Senate and House of Representatives in accordance with the law.
‘’President Buhari has also assented to National Open University Amendment Act, which allows the National Open University to operate as all other universities, having the same power and functions and the same administrative structures eliminating possible discrimination as some use to want to have on its products and programmes’’, Enang said.
For the PDP, 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 our hard-earned democracy.
‘’It is also instructive to note that President Buhari is mortally afraid of the amendments because they essentially checked the APC rigging plans, including the use of underage and alien voters, vote-buying, alteration of results and manipulation of voter register; for which the APC and the Buhari Presidency have been boasting of winning the 2019 elections.
‘’While urging the National Assembly to save our democracy and forestall an imminent electoral crisis, the PPCO also charges all political parties, other critical stakeholders and Nigerians in general, to rise in the interest of our nation and demand the entrenching of rules and processes that will guarantee the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, as nothing short of that would be accepted’’, PDP said.