Electoral Act amendment: Bill to override Buhari stepped down

•Reps set to recommit statutory delegates clause for consideration

The leadership of the House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to recommit Clause 84(8) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which seeks to confer the status of Statutory Delegates on former Presidents, Vice Presidents, Senators, members of House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly.

The resolution was passed after the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase ruled that the motion seeking to override President Muhammadu Buhari for breaching the provisions of Section 58(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), should be stepped down.

In his lead debate, Hon. Igbakpa who called for the activation of Section 58(5) of the 1999 Constitution observed that the amended Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act, was transmitted to Mr President on Thursday, 12 May 2022, to allow Statutory Delegates to participate in Political Parties Congresses and conventions.

According to him, “by virtue of the provision of Section 58(4) the President has 30 days to assent to the aforementioned Electoral Amendment Act, 2022 or formally communicate to the National Assembly his decision to decline assent.

“The House is concerned that the time frame for the President to assent or decline assent to the Bill has elapsed since 11 June 2022.

“The House is also concerned that the actions or inactions of the President to perform his constitutional duty is an affront to Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which empowers the National Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof.

“The House is conscious that Section 58 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 empowers the National Assembly to override the President when he vetoes a Bill or fails, refuses and/or neglects to act thereto, through a two-third majority vote.

“The House is worried that the continued inaction of the President in either assenting or vetoing the Bill has left a lacuna in Nigeria’s constitutional democracy which portends danger to the 2023 electoral process and other subsequent staggered elections of some states thus, leaving the Congress of Political Parties in the hands of Ad-hoc delegates to the detriment of statutory delegates.

“The House is convinced that a prompt action by the Honourable House to cure the patent constitutional lacuna is imperative by invoking Section 58 (5) of the constitution which states that where the President withholds his assent 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.”

To this end, he urged the House to invoke Section 58(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) with respect to the Bill for an Act to amend Section 84(4) of the Electoral Act, 2022 with a view to allow Statutory delegates to participate in Political Parties Congress and convention.

He also stressed the need to communicate the position of the House of Representatives to the Senate for concurrence.

However, in his reaction, the presiding officer, Hon. Idris Wase argued that the sponsor of the motion made a procedural error and that the House can’t override the President through a motion.

“You don’t come with a motion to override a bill. What you are supposed to do is to ask the rules.

“If you are interested, write to the Speaker seeking for that to happen, then we go through the normal procedure as enshrined in our Standing Order.

“We wish to kindly beg you to step down your motion because that is not the right procedure. Liaise with the chairman of house rules to do the needful.”

While frowning at the Deputy Speaker’s position, Hon. Igbakpa said: “On Thursday I came under Constitutional order and the Speaker directed what I am doing it means there is a miscommunication somewhere.

“What you are saying is still in order, we would follow it and ensure this is done. Why I am interested in this is the complaints out there.

“If this 9th Assembly must be remembered we must be remembered by two critical Bills, the PIB and this Electoral Act and if we leave without putting it in order as it is supposed to be then we must have not done anything.

“I am not doing it because it is against anybody. It is a constitutional order. It is a rule of law and I think it is why we are here. If you say I would, I would step it down right away so we can follow up,” Hon. Igbakpa noted.

While ruling, the Deputy Speaker said: “My guide is that the procedure followed is not the right procedure. For you to over-ride on any bill, you need two-thirds of the members. Not members sitting but two-thirds of members of the National Assembly.

“This is why I am guiding you and guiding the House Motion is stepped down by the leave of the House,” as Hon. Wase banged the gavel.

However, the Order 12 Rule 12(a-c) of the Standing Order cited by the Deputy Speaker provides that: “When a Bill has been passed by the House and the Senate without amendment or with such amendments as may have been agreed to by both Houses, a clean copy, certified by the Clerk to the National Assembly shall, as soon as possible, be presented to the President for his assent.

“Where the President withholds his assent to a Bill or does not communicate his assent within 30 days from the date the Bill was sent to him for assent, the House shall again deliberate on the Bill.

“If the House rejects the President’s amendment and agrees to override the President’s veto, then the Bill shall become law if it is again passed by the majority, and the Senate by a two-thirds majority, and the assent of the President shall not be required.

Speaking during a media chat with Parliamentary Correspondents, Chairman, House Committee on Navy, Hon. Yusuf Gadgi said: “I am a straight forward person, I have said it countless times. I am APC, APC is not a saint, President Muhammadu Buhari is not a saint, I make mistakes, I am not a saint. I make mistakes, I accept my mistakes and I say it loud that I make mistakes.

“If you follow me on the floor of the House on a number of issues, particularly on security-related issues, I have come clearly to disagree with the policies of the APC government as an APC representative. Because I represent the people of Nigeria, I have always done that.

“So if your question is to commit me, I will tell you clearly, without any fear or political contradiction, that if the motion mover will instigate the National Assembly to have a required 240 members that will vote yes to override Mr President on that law and if the intention of overriding him is to address that lacuna, that particular defect, that ambiguity in that particular section, be rest assured that Yusuf Gadgi will vote to override Mr President.”


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