Credible indications have shown that the Nigerian federal lawmakers may not really start the process of overriding the veto of the President regarding the Electoral Bill.
Some Senators and members of the House of Representatives on Friday said it was no longer feasible to start and complete the process of overriding President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
Members of the Peoples Democratic Party in the Senate had faulted Buhari’s decision to withhold assent to the document, alleging that it was a ploy by the ruling All Progressives Congress to rig next year’s general elections.
They had resolved to reach out to some aggrieved APC senators in order to get the two-thirds votes needed to override the President.
But the senators appeared to have dropped the idea as of Friday afternoon when all the senators who spoke with journalists across both parties, expressed doubts about the possibility of going ahead with the plan.
The federal lawmakers specifically cited the timing of such an action and the mood of the country as reasons the action would fail.
A prominent member of the PDP in the red chamber and Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, described the refusal of Buhari to sign the document as unfortunate.
He lamented that effort by well-meaning members of the National Assembly and other stakeholders to ensure free, fair and credible polls in 2019 had been defeated with the President’s action.
Ibrahim said, “I don’t think it’s feasible to attempt that (override Buhari’s assent) again. The President didn’t sign the bill and it is highly unfortunate because the election would have been more transparent with the new law in place.
“Obviously now, his party men in the National Assembly will toe the same line with him. So it’s almost impossible to achieve the override now.”
Also the APC member representing Oyo North in the red chamber, Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, said any attempt by the PDP lawmakers to start the process of overriding the president will be too difficult because the time was too close to the general elections.
He said, “It will be exactly four weeks to the general elections by the time we will resume in January. It is a process that requires a lot of preparations, planning and lobbying.
“It (overriding the President) cannot work since we are resuming on the 16th when the election will be just a month ahead. How do we now pass an electoral act that will be used for the same election? INEC needs no distraction at this level. The time is too close.”
An opposition senator from the North-West, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also agreed that it would be difficult to commence such a process on resumption in January.
“It is not feasible because it is too close to the election. It is supposed to have been done immediately the President returned it; but honestly, the mood to carry out such an action is no longer there now.”
A senator from the South-South geopolitical zone, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said going ahead with the plan would amount to a waste of precious time.
He said, “I am not even sure that many of our colleagues would actually resume in January. So, getting the required number to override the President is simply, impossible.”
Another senator from the South-East geopolitical zone, who would also not have his name disclosed, said, “We already know that we can’t override the President again. INEC should just ensure a credible poll to avoid crisis.”
Calls made to the mobile line of the Senate spokesperson, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, did not connect and he had yet to reply to a text message sent to him on the issue as of the time of filing this report.
In this vein, some members of the House of Representatives have expressed doubt about the likelihood of applying the proposed law in the conduct of the 2019 General Elections.
Speaking with one of our correspondents on Friday, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, said the legislature no longer had time to either amend the bill as demanded by the President or override his veto before the elections.
Namdas said, “It is a difficult moment. The mere fact that we are on break and we won’t resume until the 16th of January, one month to our elections, I am not sure anything meaningful can come out of it.”
A senior member in the House, who did not want his name in print, also said it would be impossible to veto the bill, with the APC still maintaining majority in the chamber.
The lawmaker said, “It will not come back again, and if it does, it will die because it will be based on partisanship and the APC members will never support it. Also, because of the limited time, we cannot pass it when election is close by. It is not possible.”
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