There is palpable concern among Nigerians, especially the political class over President Muhammadu Buhari’s reluctant to sign or return the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as the 30-day constitutional provision for him to sign expires midnight today.
African Community News had in two previous stories stated that-the President is not disposed to signing the Bill because of a clause that seeks to mandate political parties to nominate candidates through direct primaries.
Buhari is currently in Turkey for official engagements and there are no indications that he would sign the document before midnight.
Section 58(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) stipulates that where a bill is presented to the president for assent, he shall within 30 days thereof signify that his assents or that he withholds assent.
Under Section 58(5), the constitution states: “Where the president withholds his assents and the bill is again passed by each house by a two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) had earlier advised the President to reject the clause for mandatory direct primaries.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on its part expressed concern over the huge cost the direct primaries for all political parties would attract, estimated at N500Billion.
Some presidency sources told African Community News last night that Buhari is expected back in Nigeria from Turkey today and may be persuaded to sign the bill before midnight, even as others told us that the President has made up his mind not to sign the Bill.
If in the end Buhari refuses to sign the Bill, the National Assembly has the constitutional powers to veto it to become law.