Electoral Act: PDP campaign wants National Assembly to save nation’s democracy
*Want Buhari overruled
The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO) has called on the National Assembly to save the nation’s democracy by overriding President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.
The Director, Media and Publicity of the Campaign, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, conveyed the position in a statement to newsmen in Abuja yesterday.
According to him, legislative action was imperative as the President’s decision was 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.”
Mr. Ologbondiyan said Buhari has seen that he would not retain his seat as President if the amendment was signed into law, hence his refusal to assent to the bill.
“President 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.
“The PPCO invites Nigerians to note that this is the fourth time President Buhari is withholding assent on the amendment, without any cogent reason following his rejection by Nigerians.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President, in his desperation to hold on to power, has resorted to taking steps that are capable of destabilizing our nation, just because the people are resolute in voting him out of office democratically.
“It is also instructive to note that President Buhari is mortally afraid of the amendments because they essentially checked the All Progressives Congress (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,” the PPCO said.
But, President Buhari in letters to the leadership of the National Assembly explained that few months to the 2019 polls, if a new electoral law comes into being, it would create uncertainty.
According to the letters made available to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, said: “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 elections, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.”
President Buhari 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.
Also, “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,” the letter noted.