Lawmakers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the House of Representatives, yesterday, vowed to block any move to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto of the Electoral Act (Amendment) bill.
On the other hand, PDP lawmakers will today decide whether or not to go ahead with the process of overriding President Buhari’s veto a member of the caucus told Daily Trust.
Briefing newsmen at the National Assembly in Abuja, the APC caucus leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, insisted that the “APC lawmakers have more than the two-third number to stop any veto.”
According to him, President Buhari declined his assent to the bill because of its imperfection and inherent potentialities to disenfranchise millions of eligible Nigerian voters.
He said the bill’s insistence on the exclusive use of card readers for accreditation had “foreclosed all forms of manual accreditation should the electronic method fail.”
“Let me say very quickly that many people don’t understand the implication of signing an imperfect document. What the National Assembly should do is to perfect the document and send it back, then the President (Buhari) will sign it,” he said.
The House Leader said no law mandated the president to disclose his reasons for rejecting a bill, adding that by vetoing the bill, the president had sought to protect Nigerians.
“The constitution is very clear; it does not require the president to give a reason for veto. All he has to do is to say ‘I am not signing’. However, what the president has done is to protect all Nigerians. He wants all votes to count in 2019.
“We have seen instances where the card readers have failed. What Mr President has done is to protect everybody in Nigeria. That means, you can do your electronic accreditation, but also give room for the manual alternative where card reader fails,” Gbajabiamila submitted.
The House required the votes of at least two-thirds of its 360 members to override the president’s veto.
Daily Trust yesterday reported how some PDP lawmakers in the House, led by Ali Madaki (PDP, Kano) attempted to initiate debate on the president’s letter informing the House of the veto.
In his letter to the National Assembly, President Buhari had pointed out certain sections of the bill that needed clarification to avoid “creating legislative uncertainty” ahead of the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
Daily Trust reports that both chambers of the National Assembly including the Senate and House of Reps have only four days to sit at plenary and override the president before they proceed on their Christmas break next Thursday, December 20.
A PDP member who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “We will brief you people (the press) tomorrow (today) and then disclose our position concerning the Electoral Act. As you know, this is an important issue and we can’t be speaking to you individually. We will speak as a caucus”.
Another PDP Rep told Daily Trust last night that though the debate on overriding the president would commence today, he was sceptical if they would get the numbers to succeed in doing so.
The lawmaker said at a time when the House was struggling to meet quorum as a result of disenchantment among members, he did not see how they would get the numbers to veto any decision taken by the APC ruling government.
He, however, added that members’ decision to support or oppose the override move would depend on the convincing reasons given during the debate.
“A lot of members are disenchanted now; so they feel they have nothing to gain or lose on both sides,” he said.
“Why should they disturb themselves about overriding the president? You could see how our sittings happen these days where we struggle to get quorum.
“But I believe that the support or otherwise for the veto would depend on the quality of debate to be advanced by both proponents and opponents of the veto. A lot of times members change their minds on the floor when they feel adequately convinced about something.
“Personally, I feel that the president should have signed the bill, because there’s nothing to fear. But to say the truth, if it comes to the issue of overriding him, I think he has advantage because it may be difficult to get the numbers,” the lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.
But another PDP rep told Daily Trust via telephone that the debate on overriding the president would commence today and that they were hopeful of getting the required numbers (240), to veto the president.
The lawmaker, who spoke anonymously, said despite the fact that APC lawmakers still have substantial numbers in the House, there are some factors that are currently working in favour of the override process.
First, the lawmaker said, majority of APC lawmakers did not get return tickets to the House; hence they are ready to join forces with their PDP counterparts to frustrate the government. The lawmaker also said even those that got tickets among the APC lawmakers were not sure of their tickets as a lot of them had court cases within the party as a result of others being denied the right to contest, while there were cases of outright shutting out of some aspirants.
APC senators ready for to counter PDP’s
At the Senate, an APC senator told Daily Trust that they were ever ready for the PDP senators to come up with the issue of overriding the president.
Daily Trust reports that the APC currently has 57 senators, while PDP has 48. The African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) have two each, making a total of 109. To override the president in the Senate, two-thirds of the senators (73) must sign for such to take place.
As for the House of Reps, the two-thirds needed is 240 members. As it stands, there is no exact number of members according to political parties as the lawmakers keep on switching political platforms almost on daily basis.
But it is believed that both APC and PDP still have substantial numbers of lawmakers, although none of them has the required 240, meaning PDP needs the assistance of other political parties, including the APC to succeed in the override move.