Members of the House of Representatives will meet to decide whether to override President Muhammad Buhari’s decision to withheld assent to the Electoral Act amendment proposing presidential election to hold last in 2019 general elections.
Some members of the House who reacted to the president’s letter rejecting the reordering of election by the National Assembly said every member would participate in the process.
Chairman of the House Committee on Justice, Hon. Razak Atunwa (APC, Kwara) told reporters yesterday that the lawmakers “would sit together and decide what is good for the country.” He said vetoing the president’s assent “is a matter of the entire House; whether or not we can reject or accept the rejection.”
Asked whether the House would be able to garner the required twothirds majority to override the president’s assent, Atunwa said: “It is not two-third that is the issue, but the political will to do it.” He added that the lawmakers would consult their constituents and take the right decision.
On the contention by the president that the National Assembly was “interfering with the constitutional guaranteed discretion of INEC,” Atunwa explained that the lawmakers acted within their powers and such an impression does not exist. He said even though there is a constitution, the lawmakers acting based on the powers bestowed on them by the constitution, enacted the Electoral Act in which they prescribed timelines as to how elections should be conducted.
The lawmaker explained that “the parliament as the representatives of the people of Nigeria is saying to INEC that they can organise election, but it should be conducted in this way.”
The Kwara legislator likened the amendment to hiring a wedding planner and giving him directives on how the wedding should be arranged.
“If you hire a wedding planner, it’s your wedding and so you can still tell the planner what you want and where and when you want the reception to hold and the type of food to be served.
But that does not take away the powers to organise it. So we are not interfering with INEC powers,” he said. However, Hon. Abdullahi Umar Farouk (APC, Kebbi), said he was against the amendment, but the votes of members will decide the fate of President Buhari’s assent.
The lawmaker advised his colleagues not to veto the president’s assent because there is need for political parties and key political players to make input into the election of others. It will be recalled that the House, last week, passed a motion to review the Electoral Act amendment and 21 other bills that have been rejected by the president and decide on whether to veto them or not.