Reps fault non-assent to electoral act amendment

•clear the air on wrong public impression about legislature

THE  House of Representatives on Wednesday faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the electoral act amendment bill passed in the Eight Assembly.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Hon. Aisha Dukku disclosed in Abuja at the inaugural meeting of the committee.

The lawmaker however assured that the Ninth National Assembly would accord priority to the amendment of the electoral act to ensure that elections in the country meet international standards.

She explained that the National Assembly made several attempts to give the country a new electoral law in the last Assembly but all the efforts were in vain following President Buhari’s repeatedly declined assent to the bill, citing various reasons.

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According to her, ” It is important to remind honourable members that during the life span of the 8th assembly, twelve bills seeking to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 and the Electoral Act Amendment Act 2015 sponsored by members of the House of Representatives were referred to the House Committee on Electoral matters after subsequent second reading for further legislative actions.

“The National Assembly passed the Electoral Act (amendment) bill 2018 and forwarded the same to the President for his assent pursuant to section 58(4)of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended.

“However, the President declined assent due to lacuna or drafting issues in some of the clauses of the bill and advised that those observations be addressed.

“The President observations were accordingly addressed and the bill was again passed in December 2018 and later in April 2019 following another decline to assent by the President inter alia.”

She pointed out that there were a number of fundamental shortcomings in the electoral act that needed to be addressed in order to make it fully in line with global standards for elections.

According to her, “as it stands the Electoral Act amendment bill is still hanging, hence there is a need for this committee to bring up because there are several important amendments that will improve our electoral process

“I wish to assure all Nigerians that the House Committee on Electoral Matters is fully ready and will do everything within its powers to improve and strengthen the conduct of elections in Nigeria.”

This came just as the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs that said the not so good impression Nigerians hold about National Assembly legislators was due to a misunderstanding of the primary functions of the legislature.

Chairman of the committee, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Committee in Abuja on Wednesday, lamented that “over the past two decades, the reputation of the Nigerian legislature has been shrouded in controversy, with many citizens sceptical of the role of the Nigerian legislature in national development.

“Many Nigerians hold the view that the legislature has not shown a significant and genuine commitment to the social, economic and political wellbeing of the country.

“The Nigerian public is consistently inundated with fake news about the remuneration and allowances of legislators and has been conditioned to appraise the National Assembly with the same terms of reference as it would, the Executive without regard to the distinctive nature of legislative duties under the constitution”.

According to him, “This undesirable reputation stems from an acute lack of understanding of the workings and role of the legislature in our national development. This much was acknowledged as a major challenge by the 8th House in its legislative agenda and still remains a focal concern for this 9th House.

“The committee recognizes this image challenge, which is why it shall explore all available honourable colleagues, ours is an essential duty- a twin-pronged responsibility to the Legislature and the People of Nigeria.”

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