Electoral Act: APC Reps will stop override of Buhari’s veto – Gbajabiamila

Femi Gbajabiamila
Femi Gbajabiamila

The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in the House would scuttle any plan to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto of the 2018 Electoral (Amendment) Bill.

Speaking with journalists on Wednesday at the National Assembly, Mr Gbajabiamila said the APC has more than the required number to stop the process.

The House needs the votes of at least two-thirds of its members to override the president’s veto.

President Buhari for the fourth time declined to assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.

In a letter to both chambers of the National Assembly, Mr Buhari said passing a new bill with elections close by could “create some uncertainty about the legislation to govern the process.”

He also highlighted some parts of the bill that he said need legislative action.

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Many politicians, including leaders of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had called on the president to assent to the bill.

But Mr Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly needs to put in more touches to the bill.

“The National Assembly should perfect the document and send it back, the president will sign it,” he said on Wednesday.

“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,” he said.

Mr Gbajabiamila said the president declined to assent the bill in order to enable many Nigerians to have the opportunity to vote in cases of card reader malfunction.

“We have seen instances where the card readers have failed. What Mr President has done is to protect everybody in Nigeria, millions could be disenfranchised and we don’t want that.

“If they are able to muster two-thirds and push it forward, there is nothing we can do. But as a party, we are not going to be part of it. And it makes no sense to override in the case of an important document.

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“We don’t have to use a fire brigade approach; it is too close to the elections, and that is the reason for the ECOWAS protocol. It is too late in the game to begin to tinker with the rules.

“We have more than the numbers to stop a veto.”

On the controversial TraderMoni initiative of the federal government, the House Leader said criticisms by members of the National Assembly were unnecessary because they passed the scheme in the 2018 budget.

Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, had recently condemned the distribution of cash to the public very close to the general elections by the federal government.

He said no matter how noble the intent may be, such endeavours amounted to vote buying and inducement, which are a clear case of corruption.

The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, made a similar allegation, accusing the federal government of using the TraderMoni programme as a “sophisticated vote-buying” plot to win the 2019 presidential election.

Trader Moni is one of the government’s initiative under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), a programme targeted towards awarding collateral-free loans to two million petty traders across the country.

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