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Saraki set to lead Senate against Buhari..Crisis looms

A golden opportunity is here to fight Buhari ,and maybe demonize him as peoples enemy.Now, Saraki has said the Senate would do everything possible to veto the bill that Mr President refused to sign.

That bill was the right thing to do at this period of our national life.

“We will do everything possible to work with the progressive APC senators to get the right number of votes to override it. We will override it.”

He added, “We want credible elections and that was why we hoped the President would sign the (amended) Electoral Act. Now that he has refused to sign it, we will talk to the APC members in the Senate to look at Nigeria and not their party. They should look at Nigeria and not their party.

“There are aspects that INEC can implement on their own without the law.”

Reacting, the House of Representatives said it would take action on the assent withdrawal after Dogara had read the letter to lawmakers in plenary.

Intrestingly, the PDP Presidential Campaign Council on Friday urged the National Assembly to immediately override the President’s refusal to assent the bill.

The Director, Media and Publicity of the council, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement also  said overriding Buhari would save the nation’s democracy

According to him, Buhari is afraid of the amendments because they essentially checked the APC’s alleged rigging plans. Buhari’s latest action portrayed him as a jittery President who was afraid of electoral defeat.

Meanwhile, renowned Senior Advocates of Nigeria have advised the National Assembly to evoke its constitutional powers to override the President’s assent in respect of the electoral act.

The SANs include Olisa Agbakoba, Mike Ozekhome, Femi Falana and Ifedapo Adedipe.

Agbakoba, who is a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association and a member of the CUPP, said without the signing of the bill, some of the challenges experienced in the 2015 elections would repeat themselves.

He expressed the expectation that the Senate would override Buhari’s decision to pave the way for a smoother electoral experience in 2019.

Agbakoba said, “The 2018 Electoral Bill is clearly better than the 2010 (Electoral Act) as it removed all the constraints and challenges that marred the 2015 elections.

“So, retaining the weaknesses of the 2010 (Electoral Act) on whether the card reader and transmission of results electronically are allowed is going to make the 2019 elections a lot more difficult and challenging. So, I expect the Senate to override the presidential veto.”

Ozekhome also said the National Assembly had the power to override the President’s decision.

He said, “The National Assembly can go ahead with two-thirds majority to overturn the President’s decision. If after 30 days he (President) declines his assent, the National Assembly can meet and by two-thirds majority counteract his decline of assent and the bill becomes a law automatically.”

Adedipe, in his remarks, said, “Any democrat who believes in a free, fair, credible and transparent election will be concerned. This is because the earlier Electoral Act was found to have some inadequacies and that was what gave rise for the need for an amendment.

“But now that the President, in his wisdom, clearly aided by his supporters, has refused to assent to the amendment, my worry is that before this government came on board, the various individual respected Nigerians were rather very vociferous in their request for a transparent election. And so, if the National Assembly dominated by members of your own party is trying to amend the law, it is curious that the President will refuse to assent, then you’ll begin to suspect that perhaps there’s more than meets the eye in the refusal. It is probably because the ruling party is afraid of transparent elections.

Falana recalled that he had warned relevant stakeholders to expedite the process of passing the new bill as passing a law within a period shorter than six months to the election had been prohibited under Article 2 of Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance of ECOWAS.

Falana said, “Once the President withholds his assent, the choice the National Assembly has is to override his assent.

Buhari had thrice rejected the bill, the third time being August 30, when he returned it to the National Assembly.

The lawmakers quickly incorporated the areas the President raised objections to and sent the bill back to him for his assent on November 7.

The new bill has provisions to improve on the country’s electoral process ahead of the 2019 general elections, including the use of the card reader as the sole means of accreditation of voters.

In rejecting the bill on August 30, Buhari raised objections to 11 sections, all of which the National Assembly addressed in the latest version pending on his table.

The Chairman, House Committee on Electoral and Political Party Matters, Mrs. Aisha Dukku, had while briefing members on the bill shortly before it was passed on October 24, stressed that all the areas Buhari queried had been amended appropriately by the Senate/House joint committees.

Dukku, a member of the APC from Gombe State, had stated, “All the issues raised by Mr President have been captured and addressed.

“Both the Senate and the House worked on these amendments and all the issues have been addressed.”

The controversial sections that were corrected included 9,18, 27, 30, 34, 36, 44, 87,112,151.

For example, in Clause 87(14), one of the areas raised by Buhari on deadline for primary election, Dukku said the legislature addressed it by inserting “the date of the primaries shall not be earlier than 150 days and not later than 120 days before the date of election to the elective offices.”

The original provision that Buhari rejected captured 120 days and 90 days.

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