The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the 2018 alteration Bill on Electoral Act 2010 that had been returned thrice by the President.
Backstory: Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, urged the president to “rise above petty politics” and sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 into law.
The Senate President noted that he has been inundated by concerns from fellow Senators about the delay in the signing the Bill as the month-long period given to the President to sign the Bill expires in a few days.
He added that there are concerns that certain chairmen of political parties have approached the Federal High Court to stop the president from assenting to the Bill.
Saraki urged the president to dissociate himself from such ugly antics.
Saraki said “It is the prerogative of the president to either sign a Bill into law or refuse its assent. He is free to exercise this prerogative the way he likes in this case. What I found surprising is a situation where some people now want to adopt a wrong tactic of abusing the court process to stall the matter. That will be unacceptable and I am sure our judiciary will rely on the lessons from the past and not allow itself to be used.
“We do not want the president to allow the setting of a bad precedent in which somebody will go to court in future to stop the passage of an appropriation bill or any essential law, which will be important to the development of the country.
“My position remains that the president, his aides, the entire country and the international community are aware that all the concerns raised by the president on the past three occasions he withheld assent to the Bill have been addressed by the legislature. We bent backward on each occasion to accommodate the wishes of the president. We started work on this law since 2016 to prevent a situation where it would become part of the election controversies.”
Bottom Line: The President had recently refused to sign the Bill due to some “drafting issues” which according to the President’s Senior Special Assistant, Ita Enang, had remained unaddressed. That was in September and since then, the issues have been addressed and returned to the President, however, he has failed to sign the Bill. It raises questions that the president is scared of signing the law which makes improvements that are crucial for strengthening the electoral process. In all, it is a big test for Pres. Buhari’s democratic credentials.