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
FG Mulls Introduction Of Private Firefighters
The Federal Government says it is proposing to broaden the scope of the National Fire Academy to accommodate private firefighters to address fire incidents across the country.
The plan, if carried out, would lead to the emergence of private firefighters in the country.
Speaking after his first official inspection tour of the academy, the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said the fire service could have certified private firefighters like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps’ private guards.
He added that private firefighters were needed to enhance the fire service’s operations as well as improve their response time.
This was contained in a statement by the Minister’s Media Adviser, Alao Babatunde, yesterday.
The statement partly read, “Today, we have over 3 million private guards certified by the NSCDC. We can have something similar for the fire service. We need private fire service men to enhance our service and response time. The President’s #RenewedHope agenda has charged us to be innovative if we must change the narrative.
“As a matter of fact, this is another innovative way to generate revenue because we expect that anyone looking to become a safety or security guard should get trained and certified by this academy.”
Tunji-Ojo urged all institutions and recreation centres to engage certified fire and safety personnel trained by the academy when the plan materialises.
He said: “A lot has been done, but there is still a lot more to be done. With what I have seen here, I can guarantee you that we will work very hard to see that this facility will not only be useful in training officers of the fire service but also for the private sector.
“We must make fire safety a personal affair. Every institution, commercial and social recreation centre should have certified fire and safety personnel, trained by this facility.
“All public and commercial buildings and infrastructure such as banks, hotels, malls, restaurants, or even government buildings should have first responders that can administer basic fire fighting remedy while waiting for the arrival of a full operation squad of the country’s Fire Service”.
Decentralise Pipeline Surveillance Contracts, Ondo Ex-Militants Urge Tinubu
A group of ex-militants in Ondo State, on Wednesday, called on President Bola Tinubu to revisit the pipeline surveillance project and decentralise the awarding of the contract.
The group, under the auspices of the Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard, said decentralisation of the contract would enhance the security of pipelines on waterways.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the group, Chief Lucky Ajiroba.
The statement is titled, ‘Call on His Excellency President Bola Tinubu to re-visit the pipeline surveillance contract.’
The group faulted the last administration for awarding the contract to only one company, saying the purpose for which the contract was awarded was not achieved as the security situation of the pipelines was getting worse.
The statement read, “We are the members of Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard. The group led by Akogun Job Omotuwa comprises ex-militants in the state who voluntarily submitted their arms and ammunition in response to the good gesture of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the amnesty programme in the year 2017, and we have shown our unwavering allegiance to the terms of the amnesty initiative of the government.
“The overall effects of all these are: it has increased considerably the quantum of oil production, it has substantially increased the revenue accruable to the Federation account, and ultimately it allows peaceful coexistence among the people of the oil-producing communities of the country.
“We are aware of the sterling enterprise of this administration to improve on the security architecture of the Nigeria state and all its apparatus, with a particular reference to the pipeline surveillance and secured waterways.
“The last administration made a giant stride by awarding the pipeline surveillance to a sole company in the Niger Delta Area. It is not out of place to state that the purpose upon which the contract was awarded for was not achieved as the situation of the security of the pipeline was worse than ever before since their collaborative effort was not enough to support the constituted military authorities.
“The failure of this was ascribed to the centralization of the contract. In view of this perennial failure, there has been avalanche of agitation from every quarter that the pipeline security contract should be decentralized for the purpose of achieving the desired goal of the Federal Government which is in the best interest of the entire citizens.”
The group, which commended the President for its efforts in repositioning the country’s economy, opined that each ex-militant leader in the Niger Delta Region be identified, and the pipeline security contract be split among them.
Assembly Tasks Delta Govt On Rising Prostitution, Drug Abuse
The Delta House of Assembly has passed a resolution urging the State Government to take drastic measures against rising cases of drug abuse and prostitution in the state.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Mrs Bridget Anyafulu (PDP-Oshimili South) at plenary in Asaba.
Presenting the motion, Anyafulu decried rising cases of open sex trade and use of illicit drugs among youths in the state, especially in Asaba and environs.
“Open sex trade and use of illicit drug is not a good example for our children.
“The situation is worrisome considering the fact that both issues are illegal,” she said.
Anyafulu, also the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Community and Social Development said that urgent measures must be taken to address the situation.
“The twin evil of drug abuse and sex trade represents great danger to the lives of our young people and the society at large.
“They both underline the physical, mental and social well-being of our young people and this will also jeopardize the development, peace and security of our dear state.
“So, I want to state that no nation survives without the youth, the youth and the young general are the life wire of our nation.
“Any nation that ignores the youth is heading for doom, so the importance of the young people cannot be over emphasized, it is therefore very important that we address this ugly trend,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Oboro Preyor (PDP-Bomadi) decried the negative impact of rising drug abuse and prostitution, saying it must be addressed.
‘‘If this ugly trend is not addressed, it would attract more young people into their folks,’’ he said.
He also urged the government to rehabilitate youths who were addicted to drug and to create other avenues of engaging them in productive activities.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers when put to voice vote by Speaker Dennis Guwor.
The lawmakers also called for support from law enforcement agencies to ensure the arrest and prosecution of illicit drug dealers and commercial sex workers in accordance with the law in order to curb the rising trend.
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