Members of the Nigerian Senate have dissolved into a closed-door session to deliberate on the letter of President Muhammadu Buhari and take a position on the withholding of assent to the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment bill.
Soon after the Senate resumed plenary Wednesday, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, called for an Executive session to discuss further the issue of overriding President Buhari’s veto on the Electoral Act Amendment bill.
On Tuesday, the President had written to the Senate and the House of Representatives, withholding assent to the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment bill that the National Assembly passed.
In the letter, he withheld assent to the bill citing the imposition of direct primaries as approved by the National Assembly, the National Assembly for picking candidates by political parties in the amended Electoral Act as a violation of the spirit of democracy.
According to the President, with direct primaries, there will be a plethora of litigation from party members and stakeholders, just as he said that allowing the process would fuel corruption as well as encourage over monetization.
He also said that he was withholding assent to the bill because the direct primaries would cause a substantial financial burden on political parties, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the economy and security agencies, adding that the process is undemocratic.
The letter conveyed President Buhari’s position, which was addressed to both the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and read during the start of plenary on Tuesday.
In the letter dated December 13, 2021, the President further explained that his decision to withhold assent to the electoral bill was informed by advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government after a thorough review.
Signing the bill into law would have adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences on the country, particularly given Nigeria’s peculiarities.
He added that it would also negatively impact citizens’ rights to government participation as constitutionally ensured.
More details later.
Electoral Amendment Bill: Senate members in close-door meeting