The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan on Friday reiterated that President Muhammadu Buhari has every right to study the electoral bill thoroughly before assenting to it, hence should not be stampeded into signing the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment bill into law.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after Jumaat prayer at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Lawan said Buhari is free to withhold assent if he finds any provision that will bring about controversy, insisting that the 2006 Electoral Act as amended can still be used for the 2019 general elections.
“The electoral bill you are talking about has been sent back twice or thrice, that is to tell you that the president is willing to sign the bill provided it meets certain conditions that will make our electoral processes better and more sane.
“So, the President is studying this bill, is not like you will send it to him and he will immediately sign. This is a sign that he is really interested in what we sent back to him. It is for him and his advisers to read through line by line and see how best the electoral process can be enhanced.
“So, I don’t think we have ran out of time, in fact I think we should encourage the president and those helping him to complete going through the bill before he signs. What is the problem? We still have the 2006 Electoral Act as amended that we used in 2015 for an election that was adjudged to be free, fair and an improved process. We don’t unnecessarily put so much pressure and unnecessarily criticism of the president when he is yet to complete his analysis of what has been sent to him. He needs to take his time.
“And I will advise, even though I am not one of his advisers, that he goes through what has been sent to him line by line, understand whatever his advisers will tell him and if what we have sent will make the elections in 2019 better, then he signs but if however he discovers some provisions that will bring contradictions and controversies, he can withhold assent. I’m not advocating that he withholds assent but if he does, that is his right. I want to tell you that the APC caucus in the National Assembly stands with Mr. President on this.”
Buhari had in September for the third time, declined his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018, alleging irregularities and draft issues.