The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has said the Electoral Bill will be revisited after the recess by the National Assembly to decide on the way forward after President Muhammadu Buhari withheld his assent citing certain clauses.
Gbajagbiamila stated that certain clauses in the amended Electoral Bill will be reviewed by the National Assembly noting that the entire Bill can not be discarded.
In a statement with newsmen on Thursday during commissioning and inspection of some constituency projects in Surulere, Lagos State, he stressed that there are laid down processes and rules, according to the law, guiding the National Assembly which would preempt them to review the Electoral Bill (Amended) in line with the President’s reasons of not assenting to the Bill and decide on the next steps to take.
According to the Speaker, the decision and resolution on the way forward on the Electoral Bill rest on the National Assembly noting that such decisions do not solely revolve around him.
In the interview, Gbajabiamila said, “on the issue of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, I believe when we return from our break in 2022, members of the House will decide on the decision by the President to decline assent to the Bill.
“Like I told some journalists on Thursday in Surulere, Lagos after commissioning some projects, there is a process and when we come back to the House we will determine if those amendments or if those reasons sit down well with the National Assembly, in which case we will, at that point, consider removing that clause and passing the Bill so that we do not throw away the baby with the bathwater.
“But then it is not my decision to make; it is a decision of the whole National Assembly. If they determine the reasons are not good enough, then there is a process as prescribed by the constitution as well. Which way the sword is going to fall, I have no idea until that time” he said.
Recall in December, President Muhammadu Buhari had declined to assent to the amended Electoral Bill transmitted to him on November 19, 2021, by the National Assembly citing certain reasons that go against the right to freedom of association that mandate political parties to freely exercise their rights to freedom of choice.
Buhari also citing security, financial and legal consequences revealed that certain clauses in the Bill are undemocratic which would have been subjected to litigations if he had assented to the Bill.
In a statement sent by the President to both chambers of the National Assembly stating reasons why he withheld his assent to the amended Electoral Bill, he said political parties already have existing constitutions with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that stipulate the kind of primaries (direct, indirect and consensus) preferable to select their candidates for a general election.
“The amendment as proposed is a violation of the underlying spirit of democracy, which is characterised by freedom of choices of which political party membership is a voluntary exercise of the constitutional right of freedom of association”, the statement reads in parts.
Gbajabiamila rounded up the year 2021 into the beginning of the New Year commissioning and inspecting completed roads and various ongoing projects respectively in his constituency saying that the dividends of democracy are the rights of the people.
The Speaker said, “part of our efforts to attract more developments to my Surulere 1 federal constituency, I commissioned eight newly rehabilitated roads for the benefits of my ever-supportive constituents.
“The roads are Nathan street, Ojuelegba, Fawehinmi street, Leigh street, Atan street, Martins Street, Jacob street, Elizabeth/ Hooper street, Ajao road in Ogunlana and Ojuelegba areas of Surulere, Lagos.
“We will continue to deliver on our electoral promises to our people in the coming new year 2022 and beyond”, he added.