…Says Buhari signed more bills than his predecessors
The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, has said President Muhammadu Buhari cannot be compelled into signing the new amended Electoral Act Bill into law.
Sen. Lawan said that the president reserves the right to study the bill and should not be pressurised, adding that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not have the right to ask Mr. President to assent to the bill because they are not the National Assembly that passed it.
Speaking to State House correspondents on Friday after observing the Jumaat Prayer at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he said that Buhari has read and objected to certain provisions in many bills that were eventually sent back to the National Assembly to look and then return for further legislative actions for him to look at it again.
According to the Senate leader, previous government of President Jonathan did not sign much bills, rather they kept most of the bills sent by the National Assembly.
“I want to give kudos to the President for ensuring that he looks into the bills before signing. Some said he won’t sign because of this or that provisions which are either contradictory constitutionally or maybe it will cause more harm than good, so therefore the National Assembly should look into it again.
“The electoral bill you are talking about has been sent back twice or thrice, that is to tell you that the president is willing to sign the bill provided it meets certain conditions that will make our electoral processes better and more sane.
“The President is studying this bill, it’s not like you will send it to him and he will immediately sign. This is a sign that he is really interested in what we sent back to him. It is for him and his advisers to read through line by line and see how best the electoral process can be enhanced.
“I don’t think we have ran out of time, in fact, I think we should encourage the president and those helping him to complete going through the bill before he signs. What is the problem?
We still have the 2006 Electoral Act as amended that we used in 2015 for an election that was adjudged to be free, fair and an improved process.
We don’t necessarily put so much pressure and unneeded criticism of the president when he is yet to complete his analysis of what has been sent to him. He needs to take his time.
“I will advise, even though I am not one of his advisers, that he goes through what has been sent to him line by line, understand whatever his advisers will tell him and if what we have sent will make the elections in 2019 better, then he signs but if however he discovers some provisions that will bring contradictions and controversies, he can withhold assent.
I’m not advocating that he withholds assent but if he does, that is his right. I want to tell you that the APC caucus in the National Assembly stands with Mr. President on this,” he said.
When asked if the electoral act will be used in the 2019 election should the President append his signature, the former Senate leader responded in the affirmative, saying that the 2006 Electoral Act as amended, was used in the 2015 general election.
“Who amongst us will tell me that the 2015 general election was not free and fair? The processes were free and fair.
“So if we are not able to get this bill signed, we can still use the 2006 electoral act as amended and in fact we can even achieve better than we did in 2015.
We can observe our deficiencies in 2015 elections using the same act and we can improve in the administrative approach to the elections.
“I personally believe the president is doing what is right, nobody should push, pressurise him into signing the bill. He needs to go through it thoroughly and then take a decision,” Lawan stated.
On whether the bill is ready for Mr. President’s assent, the senator said: “We have taken into consideration the observations made by Mr. President and the comment.
A society that is human is so dynamic, and an environment that is so politically charged, you cannot be sure of what you will say or judge to be okay, in minute, it could change.
So, for me, I believe the National Assembly, we have done what we could to ensure that we work in a way that it will look better.
“But the president reserves the right to study it and not to be pressurised. I noticed that the PDP in their meeting of yesterday was saying the Presidency must sign the bill. Was the bill passed by the PDP or the National Assembly?
“This kind of thing tells you a lot. I expect members of the National Assembly to be the ones talking and not PDP national chairman or other presidential candidates.”