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Electoral Bill: Why National Assembly may not be able to veto Buhari’s decision

Electoral Bill
Electoral Bill


Following the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to decline assent to the electoral amendment bill, the call to veto the decision of the President is getting very loud.

The President on Tuesday wrote the National Assembly that he will be declining assent to the bill, after one month of speculation. In the letter, the President gave about 10 reasons why the direct primaries provision in the bill is not feasible.

In this analysis, Daily Post reviews the political alignment in the National Assembly and the possibility of the lawmakers overriding the decision of the President.

One veto in 22 years

Since the return to democracy in 1999, the National Assembly once vetoed the decision of the President; that was in 2000 during the debacle on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the lawmakers vetoed former President, Olusegun Obasanjo who had rejected the bill which was earlier transmitted to him after passage.

Acting on section 58(5), the lawmakers repassed the bill with the 2/3 votes in both chambers, therefore, the bill became law without the input of the President. It became the first and last since then.

How to veto the President

“Where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by a two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required,” section 58(5) reads.

To achieve this, 240 members of the House of Representatives must pass the bill in the House, while 73 Senators must also pass the bill in the Senate.

Mood in the Senate

The lawmakers in the upper chambers reacted to the letter by going for closed-door for over 1 hour to discuss the rejection. Senator Sekibo had raised a point of order that led the Senator to resolve to executive session.

Senator Sekibo later announced during an interview that over 73 Senators are ready to veto the president on the bill.

Also, the Senate President said the chamber will consult the House upon resumption in 2022.

Conflicting mood in the House

The Peoples Democratic Party in the House is currently divided on the direct primaries, the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu on Tuesday, asked the House to reconsider the bill by removing the direct primaries and passed as recommended by the President.

While Kingsley Chinda, the Leader of the PDP caucus, in a press statement on Wednesday said the caucus is willing and ready to override the president on the bill.

In his own reaction, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said the House will consider the rejection in January, while adding a caveat that they “cannot throw the baby with the bathwater.”

Influence of governors on lawmakers

Two governors, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Samuel Ortom of Benue State have both hailed the decision of the President to reject the bill.

Governors across the two parties have also expressed their disapproval of the direct primaries provision in the bill. Most of these governors influence both chambers, particularly the House.

To veto the president will mean going against the governors and the President.

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