SENATE and House of Representatives yesterday made a U-turn on their plan to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto of the order of Elections Bill.
Buhari refused to assent to the bill.
Attempts to pull through a new bill sponsored by Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Senator Suleiman Nazif, failed on the floor of the Senate.
The bill was entitled: “A Bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 to further improve the electoral process and for related matters, 2018.”
The Bill was withdrawn following a proposal by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu to that effect.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had in their passage of the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 in February this year, proposed a new sequence of elections, which placed the National Assembly election first, followed by State Houses of Assembly/ Governorship elections and Presidential election last.
Buhari vetoed the bill last month on three different grounds.
Senator Nazif, in his lead debate, noted that the new reordered sequence of elections would start with Governorship/State Houses of Assembly elections, followed by the National Assembly election and Presidential election last.
Majority of the senators in their contributions opposed the bill.
Ekweremadu apparently saw that the bill was on its way for defeat and rescued.
He proposed that the bill be reverted to the committee for more legislative inputs.
Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North), who was the first to oppose the bill, noted he is totally and comprehensively against the proposed legislation..
Lawan insisted that the right thing to do was not to legislate for new sequence of elections but to support INEC in the conduct of the elections.
Senator Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara Central) also kicked against the bill.
Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio was even more categorical in his opposition of the bill.
Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olushola Adeyeye ( Osun Central) also kicked against the bill.
Adeyeye described the bill as unconstitutional and called the action of the Senate as legislative rascality.
Senators Dino Melaye ( Kogi West) and Mao Ohuambuwa ( Abia North) made spirited attempts to get the bill passed for second reading.
Ekweremadu said: “President has made observations in respect of some aspects of that bill, he did not say that the bill we passed was entirely useless. In other to safe those noble provisions in the Electoral Act, it is important that we remove all those areas that the President had objected to and pass the remaining items as a separate bill and send it back to him, Then we can now deal with the issues where he has issues as a separate bill altogether and then we either defeat it or have it succeed.
“If it succeeds, we send it to the President, he decides what to do, if he brings it back, we also decide what to do. We need to clean up that bill so that we will be able to safe all those provisions that were already made in the Electoral Bill.”
Ekweremadu’s proposal was unanimously adopted.
Also yesterday in House, the lead sponsor, Dukku was not on the floor and the Chairman Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker-Jev (APC, Benue) requested the leave of the House to step down the bill, which was on electronic voting.
This did not, however, go down well with a pocket of lawmakers who were heard shouting no, no no.
The next bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act, No. 6, 2010 to make provision for sequence of elections in Nigeria; and for related matters sponsored by Edward Pwajok (APC, Plateau) and seven others also suffered the same fate.
Though the lead sponsor, Pwajok, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), was on the floor, he nonetheless asked that the bill be stepped down.
Before he could conclude his speech, shouts of no, no no broke out, which forced the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Yussuff Lasun to calm his colleagues down, saying the lead sponsor has every right to step down the bill.
No sooner had the Lasun ruled on the bill that the Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a point of order on privileges, disclaimed being a co-sponsor of the bill, having been listed on the order paper as one of the eight sponsors.
His point of order was sustained.
Having been stepped down, the bills can, however, be presented again for debate on another legislative day. (The Nation)