The Presidency has reacted to the inability of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the electoral act amendment bill, attributing it to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami.
Today make it 10 days after President Muhammadu Buhari received the re – amended 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment ) Bill 2022 from the National Assembly for assent.
While many think Buhari is in a fix to sign or not to sign the bill, Malami said on Monday night that he just received the transmitted copy of the electoral bill.
The Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate) , Senator Babajide Omoworare on Thursday said Buhari is yet to sign the bill because he is receiving consultations from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami on way forward.
The Policy Dialogue programme was organised by National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), an academic wing of the National Assembly.
“A very crucial consultation is going on between Mr President, the Attorney General and other critical stakeholders on content of the bill for the required assent,” Omoworare said.
“If not for this programme, I suppose to be at the very important meeting, believed to be the major determinant for the fate of the bill”, Omoworare added.
He, however, assured Nigerians that the bill will most likely be assented to by the President since issues earlier raised by him in the 2021 edition were elaborately addressed by both chambers of the National Assembly.
“Personally, I think in few days time, Mr President will do the needful since the most contentious aspect of the bill has been addressed in the reworked one transmitted to him on Monday, January 31, 2022.
“Time as it is, is of essence but I believed that Mr President will do the needful”, he said.
But assurance given by Omoworare was not enough to douse apprehension by the organisers of the dialogue who received message from the Attorney – General that his planned consultation with President Buhari prevented him from coming.
The Director – General of NILDS, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman, in his remarks said the Dialogue was convened to get insights from stakeholders into the issues likely to shape the conduct of political parties, political gladiators, contestants and others as the country move towards the 2023 general elections.
Most of the discussants at the policy dialogue, from the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, Country Representative of Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Adebowale Olorunmola to the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media, Hon Benjamin Kalu, appealed to President Buhari to assent to the bill without further delay.
Jega in particular said no law or legislation is perfect but that what is available and transmitted to the president is good and manageable for the coming elections.
Representative of INEC, Prof Bolade Eyinla, said to avoid the problem of working on electoral laws at the tail end of conducting elections, INEC should be allowed to drive the electoral reform process as being done in Ghana.
“The situation at hand now is that roughly a year to general election, the anticipated laws are not yet approved, meaning that the extant one will be used aside the fact that the process has not enable INEC to come up with a clear cut guidelines for conduct of the elections”, he lamented.