The presidency has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is desirous to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021.
The Senior Special Assistant National Assembly Matters (Senate), Babajide Omoworare, stated this on Thursday at a dialogue on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, organized by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies in Abuja.
Speaking on the policy dialogue centred on ‘Electoral Bill 2021 and Quest for Presidential Assent: Matters Arising,’ Omoworare said his principal is still consulting with critical stakeholders on whether to sign the electoral act amendment bill or not.
While noting that Buhari is aware of the constitutional time constraint for assent to the bill, he explained that Section 58 of the Constitution has given the president a 30-day time frame to sign the document.
Following the refusal of the president to sign the document over the mode of primaries, the National Assembly had on January 31 transmitted the reworked bill to the president for assent.
“Consultations are going on and we are aware that despite the fact that the President needs 30 days under Section 58 within which to sign, the President is desirous of signing it, otherwise I don’t know,” the presidential aide said.
“I can’t speak for him now. It is going to be as a result of the consultations whether he signs or not, but we know we have time constraint.”
In his remarks, a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, said a good law was necessary for electoral integrity.
Jega picked holes in the bill, especially the provisions for campaign financing by presidential candidates.
“There is a good fundamental democratic principle. Candidates for presidency spending N5 billion and governors spending N1 billion for elections is a very bad law,” he said.
“To my mind, it is just one aspect out of the many good things that are in that bill. Whether you do direct or indirect primaries, it does not matter so long as political parties are not democratic.
“If there is no internal party democracy, whether you do direct or indirect primaries, they will still manipulate it and the outcome will still not be favourable to the people.”
The bill is considered critical to the 2023 general elections and stakeholders are hoping that the president signs the bill in good time for the poll.