Senate quiet on Buhari’s veto of elections sequence amendment

OrderPaperToday – The Senate has declined to reveal its next line of action following the President’s veto on the Electoral Act Amendment bill. The bill among others, seeks to re-order the country’s election sequence, and enact other changes to the Principal Act.

According to section 25 of Electoral Amendment bill, the National Assembly election will hold first, while the Presidential election comes last. However, in a letter read today on the floor of the Senate, the President, Muhammadu Buhari informed the red chamber of his decision to withhold his assent to the amendment bill.

Regarding the controversial section 25, the President’s letter said: “The amendment to the sequence of elections in Section 25 of the principal act, may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statue to the Constitution.”

Reacting to rumours that it would override the veto of the President, the Senate through its spokesperson, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, told journalists at the Senate Press Centre that there was nothing special about the President’s rejection of the Bill, and that the subsequent line of action of the Senate will be revealed in due time.

“If I’m speaking on behalf of the Senate and the Senate has not discussed an issue, is it fair for me to speak on that?” he asked.

Sabi added: “Yes the letter has been read and definitely this is not the first time letters coming from Mr. President would be read. It’s just the same normal communication from Mr. President and all communication from Mr. President will definitely go through the same legislative processes, which means as we have received it now, it is for us to look at it.

“So, what we have here clearly is a letter coming back to us, it has been read, it’s going to be approved tomorrow in the votes and proceedings and when it is approved, subsequently if there is going to be any action we’ll tell you what the actions are going to be.”

The Senate Spokesperson was similarly non-committal in addressing comments credited to Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna), who said members of the red chamber pocket N13.5 million per month as “running cost” and that the National Assembly is one of the most non-transparent organ of government.

He said: “I am not commenting please. I am very clear, I am not commenting on anything Shehu Sani. He is a colleague and two wrongs do not make a right so I won’t join the fray in making certain things wrong simply because I want to please every other person. No, I won’t do that.”

The Senate Spokesperson had, in his previous reaction, said there is “nothing new” in Sani’s comment, adding that “almost all holders of elective and appointive offices have running costs allocated to their offices and that cannot be said to be part of their salaries.”

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