Forum of Presidential Candidates Praise Buhari on New Electoral Bill
The Forum of Presidential Candidates has commended Presidential Muhammadu Buhari for declining assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018.Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Rising from a consultative meeting convened Sunday to review recent developments in the polity, the 40 presidential aspirants under the forum said they support the position of President Buhari.
In a statement signed by the chairman of the forum who is also the presidential candidate of Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, Alhaji Shitu Mohammed Kabir and presidential candidate of Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, Mallam Danjuma Muhammad, the Forum said their earlier position had been vindicated that the amendment bill contained deliberate hurdles capable of derailing the 2019 General Elections.
The statement says the time is obviously inauspicious especially when the process leading to the 2019 General Elections is already fully on course.
The Forum, last week filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, seeking to stop President Buhari from signing the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018.
The three plaintiffs-Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, Allied Peoples Movement and Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy- also joined the Senate President; the Speaker, House of Representatives; the Chairman of INEC and the Attorney General of the Federation as defendants.
“Our position is premised on the fact that we see stumbling blocks against a free and fair election next year.
To be specific, the amended electoral bill which stipulates electronic verification of voters and transmission of results will deliberately disenfranchise many voters especially in the rural and remote areas of the country owing to obvious constraints of power supply and internet connectivity.
“The time left for the 2019 Elections is too short for INEC to recruit relevant staff and give them adequate training. We also think that the electoral body may not be in a position to respond fast enough in cases where the electronic devices malfunction.
The constraints and impediments of time and resources in difficult terrains will deliberately deny many local communities the opportunity to vote,” the Forum argued.
The presidential candidates said they suspect that those asking President Buhari to sign the amendment bill have a sinister design to derail the electoral calendar.
“We suspect a hidden agenda if the electoral umpire is forced to adjust its programme to accommodate the personnel, budget and other logistics in the guise of abiding with the provisions of the amendment bill”, they said.
President Buhari on Friday communicated to the Senate and House of Representatives his decision on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in accordance to the powers vested in him by the 1999 Constitution.
President Buhari’s letter read: “ Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ( 1999 as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate my decision on 6th December, 2018 to decline assent to the Electoral( Amendment) Bill, 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.
“I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general elections which commenced under the 2015 electoral act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process. Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.
“This leads me to believe that it is in the best interest of the country and our democracy for the national assembly to specifically state in the bill that the electoral act will come into effect and be applicable to elections commencing after the 2019 elections.