Forum of Presidential candidates praise Buhari on New Electoral Bill

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A group of presidential candidates is happy that President Muhammadu Buhari declines to sign the new Electoral Bill

 

 

The Forum of Presidential Candidates have thrown their weight behind Presidential Muhammadu Buhari for declining assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

Rising from a consultative meeting hurriedly convened Sunday, December 9, to review recent developments in the polity, the 40 presidential aspirants under the forum said they support the position of Buhari that “the time is obviously inauspicious to thinker with the Electoral Bill, especially when the process leading to the 2019 General Elections is already fully on course.”

In  a statement signed by Shitu Mohammed Kabir, the presidential candidate of Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, and Danjuma Muhammad, the presidential candidate of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, the forum said their earlier position had been vindicated that the amendment bill contained “deliberate hurdles” capable of derailing the 2019 General Elections.

The forum, last week filed a suit at the federal high court, Maitama, Abuja, seeking to stop Buhari from signing the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018. The three plaintiffs-Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, Allied Peoples Movement and Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy – also joined the Senate president; the speaker, House of Representatives; the chairman of the INEC and the attorney-general of the federation as defendants.

“Our position is premised on the fact that we see stumbling blocks against a free and fair election next year. To be specific, the amended electoral bill, which stipulates electronic verification of voters and transmission of results will deliberately disenfranchise many voters especially in the rural and remote areas of the country owing to obvious constraints of power supply and internet connectivity.

“The time left for the 2019 Elections is too short for INEC to recruit relevant staff and give them adequate training. We also think that the electoral body may not be in a position to respond fast enough in cases where the electronic devices malfunction. The constraints and impediments of time and resources in difficult terrains will deliberately deny many local communities the opportunity to vote,” the forum argued.

The presidential candidates said they suspected that those asking Buhari to sign the amendment bill have a sinister design to derail the electoral calendar. “We suspect a hidden agenda if the electoral umpire is forced to adjust its programme to accommodate the personnel, budget and other logistics in the guise of abiding with the provisions of the amendment bill,” they said.

Buhari on Friday, December 8, communicated to the Senate and House of Representatives his decision on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in accordance to the powers vested in him by the 1999 Constitution.

Ita Enang, the senior special assistant to the president on National Assembly Matters, who briefed State House correspondents in Abuja on Friday, said: “The president has taken a decision in a accordance with the powers vested in him according to the constitution.”

Buhari’s letter read: “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ( 1999 as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate my decision on 6th December, 2018 to decline assent to the Electoral( Amendment) Bill, 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.

“I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general elections which commenced under the 2015 electoral act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process. Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.

“This leads me to believe that it is in the best interest of the country and our democracy for the national assembly to specifically state in the bill that the electoral act will come into effect and be applicable to elections commencing after the 2019 elections.

“It is the also important for the following drafting amendment to be made to the bill: Section five of the bill,amending section 18 of the principal act should indicate the sub section to which the substitution of the figure ‘ 30” for the figure “60’ is to be affected.

“B. Section 11 of the bill, amending section 36 should indicate the sub section in which the provisor is to introduced (sic). C. Section 24 of the bill which amends section 85(1) should be redrafted in full as the introduction of the “electing” to the sentence maybe interpreted to mean that political parties may give 21 days notice of the intention to merge, as oppose to the 90 days provided in section 84(2) of the electoral act which provides the provision for merger of political parties. D. The definition of the term “ward collection officer” should be revised to reflect a more discriptive definition than the capitalised an undefined term “registration area collation officer.”

– Dec. 10, 2018 @ 13:19 GMT |

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