Saraki, Dogara agree on common response to Buhari’s veto of electoral bill
Nigerians should expect a unanimous and appropriate response from the National Assembly to President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent rejection of the proposed re-ordering of elections in the country, Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara said yesterday.
Leaders of the two chambers, according to them, “are in agreement on what to do, how to do it, when to do it and why it must be done.”
The pair spoke yesterday in reaction to suggestions of a split in their rank over the matter.
They dismissed as unfounded and misleading insinuations that they were in disagreement over the Electoral Act amendment 2018 which Buhari declined to assent to partly on the ground that it threatens the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to “organise, undertake and supervise elections.”
The Senate and the House of Representatives want election into the national assembly first with the presidential poll coming last.
Buhari invited the leadership of the two chambers for a meeting of Thursday but the president was said to have skipped the issue although behind the scene talks are said to be going on between the two sides to resolve the matter.
Saraki, Dogara, House of Reps Deputy Speaker Lasun Yusuf, Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan and House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila were at the meeting.
The amendment is already generating a lot of insinuations and discussions across the country.
Saraki addressing one of such insinuations said he and Dogara are on the same page on how to handle President Buhari’s veto of the proposed sequence of elections.
The Special Adviser (Media) to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu in a statement yesterday said: “Our attention has been drawn to reports insinuating that there was a disagreement between Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, over how both chambers of the National Assembly will react to the withholding of assent by President Muhammadu Buhari on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
“We wish to inform the public that there is no such disagreement between the two leaders, and indeed the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“The Senate President and the Speaker, as heads of the two chambers of the National Assembly and representing the views of their colleagues, will want everybody to know that they are on the same page on what is the appropriate reaction to the President’s withholding of assent on the Electoral Act amendment bill.
“There is no disagreement between the two chambers as well as their presiding officers. The leadership of the two chambers constantly hold discussions and are in agreement on what to do, how to do it, when to do it and why it must be done.
“The issue at stake is not personal. It is about deepening democracy. It is about improving our democracy and the National Assembly is on firm constitutional and legal grounds to amend the law as well as take decisions in the manner they have been responding.
“We see that story and the insinuations contained in it as mere distraction and unnecessary misrepresentation aimed at creating division in the Federal Legislature. The Senate President, Speaker and their colleagues urge members of the public to discountenance the report.”
There are strong indications that National Assembly members have made up their minds to override Buhari’s veto.
Sources said that after accepting legal advice which dismissed President Buhari’s basis for withholding assent to the bill, Saraki and Dogara are poised to mobilise federal lawmakers to override the president’s veto this week.
“The leadership of the two chambers are determined to push forward to actualize the amendment not minding overtures from certain quarters,” one source informed The Nation yesterday.
The National Assembly Conference Committee on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill on February 6 adopted the reordering of the sequence of elections approved by the House of Representatives.
Both chambers of the National Assembly subsequently adopted the decision which was then forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.
He declined and in a letter to the National Assembly last week, explained why he could not assent to the amendment.
The Senate at Thursday’s sitting expressed shock at the president’s action and threatened to override his veto.
Besides, senators took exception to a court ruling stopping the NASS from overriding the President’s veto.
They decided to formally protest to the Chief Justice of as part of the effort to resolve the impasse.