The House of Representatives has perfected plans to override the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd. ), on Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act 2022, which intends to provide for statutory delegates at political party meetings, congresses, and conventions.
To accomplish this, House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila has asked members who want to make a resolution for the chamber to overcome Buhari’s veto to do so from Thursday.
Two members of the Peoples Democratic Party – the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, and Ben Igbakpa – who did not receive reelection tickets in the recently ended primaries protested on the House floor on Wednesday.
Okechukwu backed Gbajabiamila on the comments made by the Speaker earlier on Tuesday, faulting the way political parties conducted primaries leading to the failure of members of the National Assembly to get tickets of their respective parties to seek reelection in the 2023 general elections.
Gbajabiamila had particularly criticised the failure of the parties to allow statutory delegates to vote for candidates at the primaries, as the National Assembly proposed in the amendment to Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act 2022, which the President has yet to assent to.
The National Assembly, on May 13, transmitted the bill to the President for assent. However, Buhari had yet to sign the amendment bill into law as of Tuesday.
It is now over 30 days after the National Assembly passed and transmitted the proposed legislation to the Presidency, the window within which the parliament can veto the bill should the President fail to assent to it.
On Wednesday, Okechukwu said, “I want to take notice regarding the very copious and auspicious comments you (Gbajabiamila) made yesterday regarding the Electoral Act where, in the circumstances, it has been weaponised; where, as a matter of fact, there was an aspiration to make the law a more perfect law to remove every ambiguity; and where there isn’t any material difference between the 2010 Act and that of 2022. And suddenly, the majority of members, where it has been weaponised, have become victims.
“Something is wrong in an environment – in an institution – where the two (Majority and Minority) Leaders of the Senate would have to cross to other parties because of inherent inclement conditions. Anything that occasions it, anything that warrants it, if it is our Electoral Act, if it is our politics, if it is the environment where we operate, we need to retool. And like you said, we have to do better work and we have to fight on.
“For me, it is just a battle that is lost, the war is on and we should go ahead to make sure that the law is retooled, made clear. And if it requires this parliament to take action to override what has not been signed, we should be willing to do so.”
Shortly after, Igbakpa decried that lawmakers were recalled from recess to quickly consider and pass the amendment to Section 84(8) and it was transmitted to the President for assent.
He said, “Mr President did not just ignore (the amendment bill), he travelled out of the country on a condolence visit to Dubai and that created a lot of problems for the country. There was tension and many of our political parties, out of the tension, created what will now be for us in the 2023-2027 electoral process.
“Nigerians are crying for good leadership and the leadership recruitment process starts with our primaries. You have worked hard and that is why I took us to Section 58 (of the Constitution). We are to make laws and present to Mr President and where he does not sign (a bill into law), that same Section 58 gives us the powers to make sure that we pass that law without Mr President’s assent.
“There is nowhere in the Constitution that says that one arm of the government is subservient to the other.”