A Group under the aegis of Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD) has accused National Assembly (NASS) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of deliberately misleading and instigating Nigerians against President Buhari to see him as the obstacle to the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act for Credible Elections.
This was made known to journalists in a press statement issued on Friday 17th December, 2021, by the National President, VATLAD, Comrade (Engr) Igbini Odafe Emmanuel.
According to him, “Having continued to carefully monitor the utterances and arguments of leadership and some members of the National Assembly particularly those of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the leadership of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the proposal to amend the Electoral Act to allow for imposition of only Direct Primaries on all Political Parties and the compulsory role of INEC to monitor all such primaries that would have huge financial implication on the Nation, we are left to conclude without doubt, that both leadership of NASS and INEC are deliberately misleading and instigating Nigerians against President Buhari to see him as the obstacle to the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act for Credible Elections”.
He said “The fact and truth remain that by the relevant provisions of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, President Buhari has no strict obligation to assent to any Bill passed by at least 2/3 majority of 469 members of the National Assembly.
Furthermore, President Buhari also has no constitutional power whatsoever to stop any proposed amendment to the Electoral Act passed by at least 2/3 majority of the 469 members of the National Assembly.
Instead, the constitutional power to initiate, pass and sign into law these proposed amendments to the Electoral Act, is rightly vested in 2/3 majority members of the National Assembly even without the assent of President Buhari”.
“This is as aptly provided in section 58 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, particularly sections 58(4 and 5) which state that: “Where a bill is presented to the President of Nigeria for assent, he shall within thirty days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent. Where the President withholds his assent and the Bill is again passed by each House of the National Assembly by two-thirds majority, the Bill shall become Law and the assent of the President of Nigeria shall not be required.”
“Why then should the leadership and at least the 2/3 majority of members of this 9th National Assembly be misleading Nigerians to believing that President Buhari must sign this proposed Amendments to the Electoral Act before it can become Law or an Act of the National Assembly to be used in the conduct of the 2023 General Elections to ensure truly Free, Fair and Credible Elections when it claims that over 2/3 majority of 469 members of the National Assembly passed this proposed Amendments Bills?
We hasten to remind Nigerians that in June 2000, the National Assembly invoked its constitutional power under section 58(5) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, to pass the NDDC Establishment Bill into Law when then President Obasanjo in opposing the Bill, withheld his assent to it. So there is no basis for this 9th National Assembly to continue to claim that it is dependent on President Buhari for this Bill to become Law”.
As regard the attempt by INEC to continue to claim that it has obligation to monitor the Primaries of Political Parties before the outcomes of such primaries can be valid and accepted for purposes of presenting Candidates for General Elections conducted by INEC, The group totally disagree with INEC and strongly accuse its leadership of continuing to deliberately waste scarce public funds in this regard and making itself a provocative interloper in the constitutional Rights of political parties to freely choose their Candidates for Elections in line with their Constitutions
“Is it not curious that the leadership of INEC continues to fail or refuse to carry out its constitutional duties in monitoring and ensuring that Political Parties comply strictly with Sections 225 – 227 of the 1999 Nigerian, as amended, to compel Political Parties to fully disclose Sources of their Fundings (Internal or External), submit detailed annual statements and analyses of their sources of funds and other assets and statements of their expenditures and to ensure that no political party engages in retaining, organising, training or equipping any person or group of persons as thugs, for the purpose of enabling them to be employed to undermine the peace, security and credibility of General Elections but only more interested in monitoring primaries and conventions of Political Parties which are the least relevant of issues INEC should monitor?”. He asked.
“Why is INEC so interested in monitoring Party Primaries if not to given room for its staff to extort from Aspirants of Political Parties seeking to be validated by INEC?
“In conclusion from all the above, we reasonably suspect now that the sudden inclusion of imposition of Direct Primaries on all Political Parties as the only method for choosing their Candidates and for INEC to be the nonitoring agent of this unconstitutional attempt is a deliberate plot to provoke President Buhari to withhold his assent to the passed bill on Electronic transmission of Election Results from Poling Units to INEC Central Server. And also to instigate Nigerians against President Buhari as obstacle to Free, Fair and Credible Elections and emergence of only proven Incorruptible and Patriotic Nigerians as elected leaders.
Nigerians must therefore hold the National Assembly and the INEC solely responsible for failure to guarantee Free, Fair and Credible Elections”.
We restate our earlier advice to President Buhari to assent only to Electronic Transmission of Election Results but to reject the imposition of only Direct Primaries on all Political Parties”.