An attempt by the House of Representatives to override President Muhammadu Buhari for withholding assent to a bill allowing for participation of statutory delegates in primary elections of political parties suffered a setback on Tuesday.
The lower chamber stepped down a motion on need to invoke section 58 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to pass the amendment to the Electoral Act, 2022, providing for statutory delegates’ participation in nomination of candidates for elections.
It took the intervention of the deputy speaker, IdrisWase, who presided over plenary to rein in the motion sponsored by Ben Igbakpa (PDP, Delta).
The Delta State lawmaker had recalled that the National Assembly had in May 12, 2022 transmitted to the President for assent, bill for an act to amend the Electoral Act, 2022 which amended Section 84 (8) to allow Statutory Delegates to participate in political parties congresses and conventions.
He said by virtue of the provision of Section 58 (4), the President has 30 days to assent to the aforementioned Electoral Amendment Act, 2022 or formally communicate to the National Assembly his decision to decline assent. Igbakpa noted regrettably that the time frame for the President to assent or decline assent to the bill has elapsed since 11 June, 2022, The Trumpet gathered.
“The actions or inactions of the President to perform his constitutional duty is an affront to Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which empowers the National Assembly to make laws for peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part, thereof.
“The continued inaction of the President in either assenting or vetoing the Bill has left a lacuna in Nigeria’s constitutional democracy which portends danger to the 2023 electoral process and other subsequent staggered elections of some states thus, leaving the Congress of Political Parties in the hands of Ad-hoc delegates to the detriment of statutory delegates.
“Section 58 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 empowers the National Assembly to override the President when he vetoes a bill or fails, refuses and, or neglects to act thereto, through a two-third majority vote,” he noted.
He prayed the House to invoke section 58 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) with respect to the bill for an Act to Amend the Electoral Act, 2022 to allow statutory delegates to participate in political parties congress and convention.
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According to section 58(5) of the Constitution, where the President withholds his assent and a bill is “again passed by each House by two-third majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.” Intervening, the deputy speaker rejected Igbakpa’s submission arguing that he can not come with a motion to override a bill asking him to follow the right procedure by writing to the Speaker.
“You don’t come with a motion to override a bill. What you are supposed to do is to ask the rules.
if you are interested, write to the speaker seeking for that to happen then we go through the normal procedure as enshrine in our standing order. “We wish to kindly beg you to step down your motion because that is not the right procedure and liaise with Chairman of House Rules to do the needful.
“My guide is that the procedure followed is not the right procedure. For you to override on any bill, you need two third of members. Not members sitting but two third members of the National Assembly.
“This is why I am guiding you and guiding the House, so, the motion is stepped down by the leave of the House.”