…Secondus, Afenifere, others want President to sign bill
…Failure to sign may raise concerns on 2019 polls -Afenifere
…No cause for alarm, bill under scrutiny, says Ita Enang
As 30 days grace for President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Amended Electoral Act to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the green light to kick-start the process for the 2019 elections elapse on Sunday, Nigerians have continued to express concern over the failure of the President to do the needful.
They are worried that less than six months to the general election, Nigerians are not aware of the ground rules that will guide their participation in the process and have therefore called on the President to sign the bill without further delay.
Leading the pack of those calling for the immediate assent to Electoral Act is the National Chairman of the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, who has called on the President to immediately sign the Electoral Act amendment without further delay.
He is not alone, the Yoruba Social cultural organisation, Afenifere, described the failure of the President almost a month after the bill was sent to him as an affront on the collective interest of the people.
The PDP National Chairman, Secondus, in a statement signed by his media aide, Ike Abonyi, expressed his concern when he received the former Sokoto State Governor Atahiru Bafarawa and the Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo, both presidential aspirants in his office on Tuesday.
Secondus said that there should be no delay in signing the new electoral act because it would deepen the electoral system and ensure faster growth of the country’s democracy.
Also speaking on the delay in signing the amended Electoral Act, the Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said that the failure of the President to assent to the Act in good time should raise sufficient alarm about what is going on about the 2019 election.
Odumakin in a telephone chat with The Daily Times said: “Clearly, less than six months to the election we are yet to have Electoral Act.
“The President is the chairman of ECOWAS, section 201 of ECOWAS Protocol says that no member state shall alter its electoral laws six months to election except all stakeholders agree. We are less than six months to election, the President has not signed the Electoral Act, and all we are hearing is that there are fears that there will be manipulation of results.
“Personal interest is now overriding general and national interest and Nigerians should raise sufficient alarm about what is going on about the 2019 elections.
Speaking on the same issue to The Daily Times, the National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu, urged the President to sign the bill in good time.
But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, has said that the final copy of the Electoral Act amendment bill is being “scrutinised thoroughly” by President Buhari.
Enang dismissed allegations that the President has refused to sign the bill, saying “there is no cause for alarm”.
He said, “The bill was transmitted to the President for assent on August 2, after the corrected version was passed by the National Assembly on July 24.”
The President has 30 days from the date of receipt to assent to or decline the bill and that 30 days will elapse on Sunday, September 2nd.
But Enang said: “We will do the needful before the bill expires.
“The final clean copy of the bill which was received by President Muhamamdu Buhari on the 2nd of August, 2018, is still undergoing thorough scrutiny by the President.
“Mr. President has not vetoed the bill. What some people are not aware of was that when the second copy was received after the initial rejection, it was discovered that there were typographical errors which the National Assembly needed to correct and they did it and sent it back on the 24th of July and this is still being studied before presidential assent.
“It is good for people to cross check their facts first before feeding the public with the wrong information. As you know, the President embarked on a 10-day leave soon after we submitted the bill to him, so we should wait.”
The bill contains relevant provisions that are expected to guide the INEC in the conduct of elections.