Buhari Bows To Pressure, Signs Electoral Amendment Act, 2022 Bill, Into Law As INEC Officials Meet

By Lateef Adegbite

 After several weeks of behind the scene maneuvering President Muhammadu Buhari , a retired Army General, has finally bowed to pressure  to assent to the 2022, Amended  Electoral Act  bill into Law, amidst cheers from the Leadership of the National Assembly and other top government  Executive who were present at the signing ceremony. The bill which had been delayed for too long from being signed by the Katsina born Nigerian President was finally assented into Law on Friday, February 24, 2022.

There was the initial fear that the signing of the Electoral bill may drag on for weeks when it was postponed from Wednesday, February 22, 20222, earlier set by the President to Friday, February 24, 2022.  as Hajia Aisha Buhari, Nigeria ‘S First Lady, who was accompanied by Hajia Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Pauline Tallen, a former deputy governor of pPlateau state and now minister of Women Affairs, had visited to the Nation to make a case for more women Parliamentarians in National and state Legislatures on Wednesday, February 22, 2022. Many had had seen the First Lady and the two female ministers visit to the Senate and House of Representatives  to attend their  respective plenary sessions    as another threat  to the signing of the Electoral Amendment Act bill, 2022, by the Katsina state born Nigerian President on the new selected date of Friday, February 24, 2022 .

Lawan: Senate President

 Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President  may have  have given pundits the ammunition to think so because of the assurance  given to them  that’’ the National  Assembly  while voting  on the amendments  to the 199 Constitution , as contained in the  ad-hoc Committee’s report, will ensure that  women’s participation  in governance  is commensurate with their population’’

 Indeed, the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, were waiting in the wings to fire the first arrow on the retired Army General if he fails to assent the Electoral Act into Law because of the First Lady demand on the National Assembly or any other reason.  The Nigerian President may have known that he cannot afford to disappoint the Lawmakers and Nigerians in general, by coming out with another excuse that may delay the signing of the 2022 Electoral Amendment Act bill.

 The Pressure on the Nigerian President to sign the Electoral Amendment Act bill that had had been forwarded to  him by the National Assembly was so pronounced that Senator Hope Uzodinma, governor of Imo state   and political ally of the retired Army General, had called on  the PDP to sheath its sword and stop putting undue pressure on the retired Army General but give him time to study the bill and make his input.

Gov.Uzodinma: Not Happy That Buhari Was Put Under Intense Pressure To Sign The 2022 Electoral Act Amendments Bill Into Law

 Hear him. ‘’ I don’t  understand  the anxiety  and propaganda of the PDP, of trying   to force the President  into signing  the  Electoral  Act Amendments bill 2022  without following’’ the Constitutional provisions to study the Act and get a good grasp of it to know what  he is signing’’.

 Femi Adesina, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity,  had said that the President may   not have been  in a hurry  to assent to the Electoral amendment Act Bill  because he has a ‘’window  of 30 days  within which  to sign  the bill or decline assent after it had been submitted to him by the National Assembly’’.  

Although, the Nigerian President has every reason to have  refused to assent to the bill  because of the provisions in section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022,  which had ‘’ disfranchised  serving political office holder from voting  or being voted for  at party conventions or congresses for the purpose  of the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the national election’ but he allowed the bill to go in its original form’.

The Nigerian President, who could not hide his feelings, however, why  assenting to the Electoral Act bill, 2022, had said that  the provisions of section 84 sub section 12 of the Electoral Amendment Act bill  had introduced’’ qualification and disqualification  criteria that ultra-  vires  the Constitution  by way of importing blanket  restrictions  to serving political office holders’’ but that was  how he could go.

Many believe that he may have listened to wise counsel of the Leadership of the party and the National Assembly including some members of his kitchen Cabinet to assent to the Act to avoid giving room to the Opposition PDP, to use it as   Campaign weapon in the forthcoming 2023, general elections, as a party that   could not keep its promises.

 Tthe Nigerian President may not wanted to spoil the good working relationship that had  existed between National Assembly and the Executive arm of government  over the years as all his Executive bills, and request to take foreign loans have been approved  with little or no debates.

It was therefore no very surprising why he had assented to the bill ahead of the 2023 general elections. In signing the Electoral  amendment Act bill into  law,  a calm looking Nigerian President had said that ‘’the Act  would improve  and engender clarity, effectiveness, and transparency  of the election process, as well as  reduce  incidences of acrimony arising  from dissatisfied candidates and political parties to the barest minimum’’.

 The President had further said that ‘’it contains salient provisions that would positively revolutionise  the nation’s  elections processes with the introduction  of the new’’. Technological innovations’’. Giving an insider informations on ‘’the technological innovations, he disclosed that’’ it will guarantee ‘’the Constitutional rights of citizens to vote and to do so effectively’’. 

Describing the  Electoral Act Amendments  Bill 2022 passed by the National Assembly and forwarded  for Presidential Assent  as an’’ improvement  from the previous  Electoral Bill of 2021’’,  he disclosed that that  it will pave the way  for ‘’credible  and sound electoral process that Nigerians should be proud of’’.

The Leadership of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, had given kudos to Mr. President  for signing the 2022, Electoral Act Amendments bill into Law, stressing that ‘’ it will  provide an improved legal frameworkin the lead-up to the 2023 electioneering  processes and all other future election’’.Senator  James Akpanudodehe,  the party spokesperson  described the signing of the Electoral Act , 20222, bill into Law, as a ‘’big win  for the country’s electioneering processes and democracy’’.

Gov. Wike: urges Lawmakers Not To Amend The Section 84 Of The New Electoral Law As Requested By Mr. President

 But in his apparent reaction to the President’s request to the National Assembly to expunge section 84, subsection 12, from the Electoral Amendment Act bill, which had been assented into Law, on Friday, February 24, 2022, Nyeson Wike, a former minister of Education, during Goodluck’s Administration and now governor of Rivers state had described it as a’’ selfish move aimed at protecting  sacred cows within his Cabinet’’.

Appealing to the APC dominated National Assembly not to be seen as, rubber stamp of the President, he urged the Lawmakers to turn down the request of Buhari to amend that particular section of the electoral act.

Prof. Yakubu: INEC Chirman Meets With The National Commissioners On The New Electoral Act Law

Wike who could not hide his feelings had called on Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to take advantage of the of the new Electoral Act  Amendment  bill, which had been signed into Law  the retired Army General ‘’to improve on   the Commission’s  credibility  in ‘’delivering  acceptable  elections’’.

 Given the enormous  Law, task before the Electoral umpire in implementing the Electoral Act 2022,   Festus Okoye,   National Commissioner  and Chairman,  Information and Vote Education Committee, of the INEC, had said that the  Commission  will hold extraordinary  meeting, today, Saturday, February 25, 20222, in a  bid to proceed  with implementing ‘’the provisions guiding the 2023, general elections within the Law’’.

An elated INEC National Commissioner may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he disclosed that the new Electoral Act Law contains many progressive provisions that will ‘’facilitate the conduct of free, fair and credible  elections in Nigeria’’.

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