Electoral Bill: NASS may drop direct primary clause – Gbajabiamila



Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila

There are indications that the National Assembly may have surrendered to President Muhammadu Buhari over his veto on the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill 2021.

The indications to this effect were given by Speaker  House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, who hinted that the lawmakers would revisit the Bill, consider  removing the direct primary clause, pass the Bill and return same to the president for assent.

Gbajabiamila also said overriding the president’s veto would be herculean, adding however that the final decision rested with the members.

Speaker Gbajabiamila drooped this hint Thursday while commissioning some projects including the Obele mini stadium, Dosunmu road, Adedoyin road, Ojikutu, Ishola road by Randle, Rasaq Balogun mini stadium and the Razaq Balogun road, Adeniran Ogunsanya in Surulere, Lagos.

“If you followed the history of the amendment of the direct and indirect primary bill, I initiated that amendment bill for a good reason and it is for people to participate in elections. These are the people you see around when you campaign every four years come rain, come shine.

“For me, it does not make sense that these people do not have a voice in who represents them. It is part of being used and I didn’t like that. Most of us are reformers and one of the ways to reform the system is to make more accountable and to make the people have a voice in who represents them as opposed to a few people sitting in the four corners of a wall and writing results. That is what the amendment was all about. Again, there is a process.

“The president has, in his wisdom, rejected it and I believe he did it with good intentions based on the advice that he got. He weighed everything. Again, maybe times are different. He has people who advised him and I guess they advised him against the amendment bill.

“There is a process. When we come back, as I said, the House will look at those amendments. We will sit as the National Assembly, look at the reasons and at that point, consider removing that clause and pass the bill so that we do not do away with the baby and the bath water.

“But then, it is not my decision to make. It is the decision of the National Assembly, if they determine that the reasons are not good enough, then, there is a process prescribed by the constitution,” Gbajabiamila said.

On whether NASS would override the president’s veto, the lawmaker said:  “Which way the sword is going to fall, I have no idea until that time. I cannot read the minds of the whole National Assembly members.

“They need 2/3 of the members to override the president, there is a reason the constitution prescribes 2/3, veto is not something you easily override.

“If they muster enough and they believe it is in the best interest of Nigerians, then, that is what we will do; otherwise, we will take out the clause and pass the bill so that Nigerians can have a credible Electoral Act and due process. They must get it.”

Constituency

The lawmaker also spoke on his passion and commitment to serve people of his constituency.

 “My job as a legislator is to represent those who voted me in and those that did not and that is what I have been striving to do for years even before I became Speaker.

“We thank God for what we have been able to do, we made promises and we delivered. To me, this is what I call the real dividend of democracy. It tells you the difference it will make to the youths. When I was campaigning, I told the people what I was going to do. I saw the state of the roads and stadium and when I came in, that is what I did. We will continue to do more because it is never enough.”