Uncertainty Over Electoral Bill As 30-Day Period For Presidential Assent Ends

 THE 30-day period for President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law expired on December 19 with uncertainty surrounding the fate of the proposed legislation.

The presidency did not respond when contacted by The ICIR over the development on December 19.

Calls to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu were not answered and a text message sent to him was not replied as of the time of filing this report.

The ICIR in the SMS sent to Shehu asked whether Buhari had taken a decision on the bill.

The Electoral Act Amendment Bill was forwarded to the president by the National Assembly on November 19. With the bill yet to be signed into law within the stipulated 30-day period – which expired on December 19 – it is expected that the president will write the National Assembly to explain his reasons for withholding assent, although there are also suggestions that he may decide to sign the legislation after the stipulated time.

The National Assembly can decide to override the presidential veto and pass the amendment bill into law with two-thirds majority votes in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

However, the National Assembly is set to go on recess for the Yuletide on December 21 and would not resume until the third week of January 2022, a development which has heightened the uncertainty over the fate of the amendment bill.

The National Assembly would have gone on recess on December 16 if not for delay in the passage of the 2022 budget.

But it is highly unlikely that the National Assembly would decide to override the president by moving to pass the bill with two-thirds majority, even though the lawmakers are believed to be pushing for the introduction of the contentious provision for compulsory adoption of direct primaries by political parties.

Members of the National Assembly believe that direct primaries would whittle down the enormous influence wielded by governors in the selection of political party candidates for elections through the indirect primary model.

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