Buhari writes NASS, declines assent to Electoral Act Amendment Bill

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President Muhammadu Buhari has officially written the National Assembly, rejecting the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

The rejection was conveyed in letters read in the two chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The bill was transmitted to the president on November 19.

In a lengthy letter read by Mr Gbajabiamila, Mr Buhari explained his reasons for the declining assent to the bill.

He said he got relevant advice from all concerned ministries, departments and agencies.

Mr Buhari cited financial, security and legal consequences for rejecting the bill.

He added that it would infringe on the rights of Nigerians to participate in governance and democracy.

“The amendment as proposed is a violation of the underlying spirit of democracy, which is characterised by freedom of choices of which political party membership is a voluntary exercise of the constitutional right of freedom of association,” the statement reads in part.

He added that the existing constitution of the parties already registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) permits direct, indirect and consensus primaries.

Mr Buhari said his decision is based on informed advice by relevant ministries, departments and agencies of the government, and careful review of the bill in light of the current realities prevalent in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the circumstances.

Parliament will decide the way forward – Gbajabiamila

In his end of the year speech, Mr Gbajabiamila said the parliament will decide the way forward on the bill next year.

He noted that there would be no need to throw away the baby with the bathwater.

“As it is, it falls on the parliament to decide the way forward. When we resume next year, we will decide it together. We must not throw a baby away with the bathwater,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.

Details later…

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