The House of Representatives on Wednesday considered a constitutional point of order seeking to prevail on the House, and by extension, the National Assembly to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on the amendment to the 2022 Electoral Act, which stopped statutory delegates from participating in the just concluded party primaries.
The speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila ruled in favour of the motion seeking to override Buhari while presiding over the Wednesday plenary session during which Ben Igbakpa, an outgoing PDP member from Delta State raised a point of order.
Recall that the Electoral Amendment Act was recently amended by both chambers of the National Assembly to include all elected office holders in the country to become statutory delegates in the conduct of primary elections and conventions of their political parties.
The House after a clause-by-clause consideration amended the Bill sponsored by the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata (APC, Jigawa).
The current version, which was assented to by the President in February, prevented statutory delegates from taking part in party primaries, including the President, Governors and their deputies.
The House had while on recess reconvened an emergency session to amend the said Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Act 2022 with a view to correcting the oversight in the earlier version.
However, the refusal by the President to sign the bill prevented the lawmakers, Governors, Ministers, and the President among others from participating in their just-concluded parties primaries across the country.
Two members of the Peoples Democratic Party – the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu and Ben Igbakpa – who failed to get tickets to seek reelection at the recently concluded primaries, had protested on the floor of the House on Wednesday.
Okechukwu said, “I want to take notice regarding the very copious and auspicious comments you (Gbajabiamila) made yesterday regarding the Electoral Act where, in the circumstances, it has been weaponised; where, as a matter of fact, there was an aspiration to make the law a more perfect law to remove every ambiguity; and where there isn’t any material difference between the 2010 Act and that of 2022. And suddenly, the majority of members, where it has been weaponised, have become victims.
“Something is wrong in an environment – in an institution – where the two (Majority and Minority) Leaders of the Senate would have to cross to other parties because of inherent inclement conditions. Anything that occasions it, anything that warrants it, if it is our Electoral Act, if it is our politics, if it is the environment where we operate, we need to retool. And like you said, we have to do better work and we have to fight on.
“For me, it is just a battle that is lost, the war is on and we should go ahead to make sure that the law is retooled, made clear. And if it requires this parliament to take action to override what has not been signed, we should be willing to do so.”
Igbakpa noted that lawmakers were recalled from recess to quickly consider and pass the amendment to Section 84(8) and it was transmitted to the President for assent.
He said, “Mr President did not just ignore (the amendment bill), he travelled out of the country on a condolence visit to Dubai and that created a lot of problems for the country. There was tension and many of our political parties, out of the tension, created what will now be for us in the 2023-2027 electoral process.
“Nigerians are crying for good leadership and the leadership recruitment process starts with our primaries. You have worked hard and that is why I took us to Section 58 (of the Constitution). We are to make laws and present to Mr President and where he does not sign (a bill into law), that same Section 58 gives us the powers to make sure that we pass that law without Mr President’s assent.
“There is nowhere in the Constitution that says that one arm of the government is subservient to the other.”