The much-talked-about 2021 electoral act amendment bill has been forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent and Nigerians should know their fate within 28 days.
According to the presidential aide on Legislative Matters (Senate), Babajide Omoworare, in pursuance of Section 58 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and the Acts Authentication Act Cap.
In legislation, the president has 30 days to act on a bill presented for his signature by the National Assembly.
The National Assembly had on November 9, 2021, against the move by some state governors of the APC extraction, passed the electoral act amendment bill allowing direct primary elections for political parties and also gave nod for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct election electronically and transmit the election results electronically.
Some political analysts have alleged that the senators passed the clause providing for the direct primary election in order to whittle down the powers of the state governors and argued that Buhari may not assent to the bill because of the discrepancies coming from the governors.
But some Senators have kicked against such insinuations, insisting their decision was on the need to entrench democracy in party politics.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Sen Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano South) said the inclusion of direct primary in the electoral act was to take democracy down to the grassroots.
“I believe that direct primary is taking democracy to the grassroots. That is what President Buhari always talks about. It will allow people who are card-carrying members of the party to decide who should be their candidate. We are happy with it and we believe that President Buhari will sign the bill very soon,” Gaya said.
In Nigeria’s legislation, once there is the concurrence of a bill in both chambers, the Clerk of the National Assembly will ‘enrol’ the bill to the president for his assent.
Enrolment is when the Clerk of the National Assembly produces a clean copy of the bill, certifies it, and forwards it to the President for his/her assent.
The President has thirty (30) days to sign a bill sent to him/her by the National Assembly. A bill does not become law until the President signs it. But there are three potential outcomes here: “The President may provide his assent and sign the bill into law.
“The President may veto the bill if she/he disagrees with the provision of the bill or some aspects of it, by withholding his/her signature.” When this happens, the President must state the areas she/he wants amended before she/he signs the bill.
If the National Assembly agrees with the President the bill can be withdrawn for deliberation on the amendments suggested by the President. If the amendments are agreed to, it is forwarded to the President who then assents to it.
The President may veto the bill. If the National Assembly does not agree with the veto, it is empowered by the Constitution to overrule the veto of the President. The two Chambers can recall the bill and re-pass if the bill is passed in the form it was sent to the President by two-third majority vote in both chambers, the bill automatically becomes a law even without the signature of the President.
But with the harmonious relationship enjoyed between the Executive and the Legislature, overriding Buhari may not be in their agenda and Nigerians should know their faith in the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill within 28 days.