THE All Progressives Congress (APC) Caucus in the House of Representatives on Wednesday defended President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to ascent to the Electoral Act amendment bill transmitted to him by the National Assembly ahead of the 2019 general elections
However, the Caucus indicted the Legal Department of the National Assembly which crafted Bill for the flaws which prompted President Buhari to withhold his ascent.
President Muhammadu Buhari
Addressing newsmen in Abuja yesterday shortly after the emergency meeting of the Caucus, the House leader who is also the leader of the Caucus, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila vowed that the APC members would stop any attempt by the opposition lawmakers to veto the bill.
President Buhari had in a letter sent to the National Assembly read at the Plenary on Tuesday disclosed that he was“concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general election which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process”.
The contents of President Buhari caused an uproar among the lawmakers over whether or not it should be debated before the Speaker overruled them and stepped it down.
However, arising from the emergence of the APC Caucus meeting held before the plenary, Hon Gbajabiaila said that the netting has reviewed the whole issues surrounding the Electoral Act and discovered that President Buhari was right to have withheld his assent to the bill.
According to Gbajabiamila, “a punctuation can change the meaning of a provision of the law. The National Assembly should perfect the document, send it back; the president will sign it.
“And it makes no sense to override in the case of an important document. We don’t have to use a fire brigade approach; it is too close to the elections, and that is the reason for the ECOWAS protocol. It is too late in the game to begin to tinker with the rules.
“If they are able to muster two-thirds and push it forward, there is nothing we can do. But as a party, we are not going to be part of it. And we have more than the numbers to stop that and mind you, we have more than enough to stop it.
“Part of the issues in contention regarding the bill is the mandatory use of card readers, which if the President had signed the bill into law will disenfranchise many Nigerians
“We have seen instances where the card readers have failed, the case in point was that of the then President who was not recognised by the card reader, What Mr. President has done is to protect everybody in Nigeria. Millions could be disenfranchised and we don’t want that, he wants the vote of every Nigerian to count this time around “.
When asked why the flaws were not rectified before transmitting to the President for nascent, Gbajabiamila exonerated the lawmakers of any wrongdoing and blamed the Legal Department of the National Assembly which drafted the bill in the first instance.
He explained that in the developed world, the Legal Department were equipped with necessary instruments and manned by experienced hands of many years who would have rectified such flaws, saying that in Nigeria, versed was the case.