By Steve Oko
Again, President Muhammadu Buhari has bluntly refused to sign into law, the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
This will be the fourth time the President would decline assent to the bill despite the growing clamour for the bill to be signed into law considering its numerous advantages.
Buhari’s refusal to sign the document is coming two days after the Senate President, Bukola Saraki urged him not to be deceived by anti -democratic elements prodding him against signing the bill.
The President who declined assent to the bill Friday has returned it to the National Assembly for further ammendments.
Wawa News Global reports that the withholding of his assent to the bill has made it the fourth time the President has returned it to the National Assembly.
Briefing State House correspondents on Friday, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang said that “the President in line with the constitution has communicated his decision and returned the bill to the National Assembly”.
Enang was however evasive on the main grounds upon which Buhari withheld assent to the bill.
He had in the previous rejections of the bill explained that it was due to errors discovered by the President.
His words : “President Muhammadu Buhari has taken decision on Electoral Act Amendment bill 2018. In accordance with his power under the 1999 Constitution and has communicated that decision to the Senate and House of Representatives in accordance with the law.
“Again, President Buhari has also assented to National Open University Amendment Act, which allows the National Open University to operate as all other universities, having the same power and functions and the same administrative structures eliminating possible discrimination as some use to want to have on its products and programmes.
“It has also allowed the establishment of some centers to be called study centers and given conditions for the establishment of such study centers.”
Enang told newsmen it was only the National Assembly that could reveal why the President withheld his assent to the bill.
“And by convention that decision contained in the communication can only be revealed by the person to whom that decision is addressed to. But the electoral bill has left Mr. President because he has taken a decision and has remitted it back.”
Pressed further for clarification, Enang said, “Thank You very much but this is all the law allows me to say by convention. Mr. President has sent that communication to the National Assembly.”
On the likely implications of the decision on the 2019 elections, Enang said, “The implication of the decision is that the president has taken action on the bill within the time allowed by law.”
Meanwhile, Buhari’s rejection of the bill in the past had drawn the ire of many Nigerians who believe that the bill would minimise rigging and strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.
It is expected that the National Assembly could veto the President if it could mobilise the constitutional two third requirement.