President Muhammadu Buhari has written to both chambers of the National Assembly indicating that he will not sign into law the new 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment), in which the lawmakers introduced a new Sub-Section 25, which rearranged the sequence of the 2019 general elections, placing the National Assembly election first and Presidential election last.
Buhari, in a letter to the two chambers of the National Assembly, read in the Senate and House of Representatives, yesterday, predicated his veto on infractions on constitutional provisions, particularly with regards to the one on new sequence of elections.
The letter titled: “Presidential Decision to Withhold Assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018” reads in part: ‘Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate, my decision, on 3rd March, 2018, to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.
“Some of my reasons include the following: (a) The amendment to the sequence of elections in Section 25 of the principal act, may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organise, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statue to the Constitution;
“(b) The amendment to Section 138 of the principal act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates, unduly limits the rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process;
“© The amendment to Section 152 Subsection 325 of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections”.
However, the letter was not subjected to debate in the Senate, though there was a closed door session before the plenary.
But briefing journalists after the Senate plenary session, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity and Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, noted that any action that would be taken by the Senate on Mr President’s letter would come after the adoption of the letter into its votes and proceedings of today.
His words, “Senate has not taken any action on the letter vetoing the 2010 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 for now because there are processes and procedures of taking such actions.
“First, having received the letter, yesterday, as read on the floor by the Senate President, the next line of action would be to approve it in our votes and proceedings tomorrow (Wednesday), after which it will be properly studied for any possible line of action”.
Recall that the National Assembly, three weeks ago, passed the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill and reordered the sequence of the 2019 general elections against the earlier one announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC had in its own sequence of elections, fixed February 16, 2019, for Presidential and National Assembly elections, and March 2, 2019 for governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.
However, the National Assembly, in its own sequence of elections, put that of the National Assembly first, followed by the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections and Presidential election last.
The Tide gathered that the lawmakers have the option of accepting President Buhari’s action or overriding the President on the veto.
To achieve the latter option, they would require the assent of 73 senators and 240 House of Representatives members to counter the President’s veto, being the constitutional 2/3 majority stipulated by the Constitution for the purpose.
It would also be recalled that in the wake of the Senate’s passage of the Amendment Bill on February 14, 10 senators led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu had protested against the new sequence, and staged a walkout on the Senate.
They also vowed that the bill would not be signed into law by President Buhari.
Recall that one of the senators who protested against the bill, Senator Omo Agege (Delta Central) also boasted that the group had the support of over 55 senators who were against the passage of the bill.
But he later recanted the claim on the floor of the Senate when he withdrew his statement; and apologised to the Senate for giving the information which he admitted was wrong.
Meanwhile, the Senate has told the Independent National Electoral Commission that it is the responsibility of lawmakers to fix the order of elections in the country.
It said the election body should not be misguided on the extent of the powers of the National Assembly in the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010.
The warning is coming against the backdrop of the imminent face-off between INEC and the National Assembly over the ordering of the 2019 elections.
INEC wants the presidential election to hold first, whereas the National Assembly has passed a bill, awaiting assent by President Muhammadu Buhari, for the election of the president to hold last.
While this was going on, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu announced the dates for elections for the next 36 years.
But speaking last Monday while declaring open a public hearing on the bill seeking to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission, the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, represented by the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’allah, said: “Of recent, there have been arguments on who has power to do what.
“INEC should be cautious of who it is listening to.
“We would not sit anywhere this constitution will be violated.
“It is necessary we caution ourselves.
“We need this country, we love this country.”
Saraki also noted that some political aspirants and parties were already campaigning when INEC had yet to declare electioneering open, adding, “The Senate in particular would be very worried, if INEC begins to condone the actions of some political parties.
“You have not declared campaigns open, and some are already campaigning.”
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that it was not surprised that President Muhammadu Buhari withheld his assent to the legislation by the National Assembly, reordering the sequence of general elections in the country, particularly given the tendencies he has continued to display as a politician.
A statement issued by Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary of the party in Abuja yesterday, expressed the PDP’s belief in democracy and subscription to all its tenets including the respect for the powers of the National Assembly to make laws and to amend such laws as occasion demands.
It said in the light of this development, the PDP, and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians were now eagerly awaiting the final decision of the National Assembly on the amendment.
The statement said: “As a party, we are not afraid of the 2019 general elections because we know that Nigerians have already rejected President Buhari and his dysfunctional All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Against this backdrop, the PDP assures to provide all the members of our great party a level playing ground to choose a Presidential candidate in a National Convention that promises to be open, free, fair, credible and transparent.
“We know that with the support of Nigerians, any candidate that emerges on our platform ahead of 2019 will clinically defeat President Buhari at the polls and lead our nation back to the path of progress, national cohesion and a vibrant economy.”
Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.
Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?
Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.
2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”
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