There is pressure on the National Assembly to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021, it was learnt yesterday.
Civil Society Organisations, including Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) and YIAGA Africa, said that the bill should be given legal tooth by the parliament through a two-third majority vote of members.
But, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike differed saying that the National Assembly lacked the capacity to reverse the President’s decision.
CTA, in a statement by its Executive Director, Faith Nwadishi, urged the National Assembly to, in the “spirit of patriotism, upturn the President’s decision as “a way to conducting free, fair, and credible elections that will stand the taste of the time.”
The group accused President Buhari of taking interest in mundane things ”that will benefit a few members of his cabal, instead of improving our elections and the integrity of the electoral process.”
CTA said that it was worrisome that Buhari decided to toe the same path as he did in 2018.
The statement reads in part: ”Recall that in 2018, President Buhari failed to assent to the bill as amended then with the excuse that the time was too close to the 2019 general elections.
“The delay until this time confirmed the fears that the provisions envisaged by the citizens and expectations thereof may be dashed by the actions of the president. Laws are made for the interest and benefit of the people and not for those in power.
“The reasoning by the President concerning the provisions on party primaries should not be held unto to truncate the wishes of Nigerians.”
YIAGA Director of Programmes, Cyntha Mbamalu, said since Buhari “is failing Nigerians,” the National Assembly ought to use its constitutional power to override him.
Mbamalu added: “The president should realise he is failing Nigerians because this is the electoral amendment that a lot of Nigerians got interested in and we have been making demands for certain things.
“There are two options. The President had the deadline yesterday. The National Assembly has the power of veto and needs to exercise that power because they are the arm of government that has the power to actually checkmate the Executive.
“We already know we have lawmakers who think that whatever the President says is final, but this is the time for us Nigerians to also put the pressure on them.”
She spoke yesterday at the ‘Incredible Music Festival’ in Lagos.
Human rights lawyer Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and one-time Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Vice President Monday Ubani urged federal lawmakers to override the President’s veto
They said the Constitution empowers them to do so.
Ozekhome, who spoke on an Arise TV programme, lamented that the lawmakers seemed to be always quick to grant the President’s desires.
He, however, pointed out that Sections of the Constitution empowers them to override the President’s veto through a two-third majority vote
He said: “You have to go to Sections 58, 59 and 4 of the Constitution. Under Sections 58 and 59, when the President vetoes a Bill sent to him by the National Assembly, all hope is not lost.
“Those sections empower the National Assembly to override that veto by the President through a two-third majority vote. And the law is that the bill shall become law without the assent or signature of the President.”
Ubani, who disagreed with the reasons advanced by the president, believed the lawmakers prepared the bill with the interest of Nigerians at heart and should follow it through to the end.
The lawyer added: “The National Assembly should go ahead and override the president. They should take that line of action because they are the ones that passed that Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
“They believe in its contents. Because the president does not believe in it, should not make the lawmakers lose their belief in the bill. They should go ahead and override the president’s veto.”