Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have upped their pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign the recently-passed Electoral Amendment Bill into law until contentious areas are resolved.
Many of the governors, who are at loggerheads with senators and members of the House of Representatives from their various states, are not leaving anything to chance in ensuring that the decision by the National Assembly to yank off indirect primaries from the Electoral Act is frustrated.
On Monday, APC governors, represented by the caretaker committee chairman of the party and Governor of Yobe State, Mala Buni, met with the president.
Others present during the meeting were Governors Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi and Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa states respectively.
Though the governors did not speak on the ongoing controversy trailing the removal of indirect primaries from the Electoral Act by members of the National Assembly, sources in the APC, told Daily Sun that the issue featured prominently during the meeting the president.
The source said the three APC governors, who represented their colleagues, urged the president to return the Amendment Bill to the National Assembly to reflect some of the concerns raised by stakeholders.
The source said National Assembly leaders, who until now, refused to listen to concerns raised by governors, may lose out in the ongoing power play.
It said many APC lawmakers were already aggrieved that governors have already hijacked the structures of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
It said lawmakers believed that direct primaries would raise their chances of returning to the Assembly if allowed to scale through.
Similarly, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Monday, met with President Buhari on the same Electoral Amendment Bill. While briefing newsmen, he frowned at politicians lobbying the president not to sign the Bill into law.
Unlike Lawan who kept mum on the issue of indirect primaries yanked off from the Bill, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, last week, during a visit to the President, made a strong case. He explained why the inclusion of direct primaries was good for the country’s democracy.
Another source said APC governors and leaders were sharply divided on the issue. It said southern leaders, especially those from the South West, believed it was a ploy by their northern counterparts to gain undue advantage in 2023.
It said the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is the arrowhead behind the removal of indirect primaries from the 2010 Electoral Amendment Act is also under fire from his South West leaders for taking a decision without due consultations.
Already, PDP governors and National Assembly members elected on the platform of the party, have voiced out their opposition to the removal of indirect primaries, warning of dire consequences if the decision is not reversed. Unlike the divided APC leadership on the issue, the PDP is united in its call to have the decision rescinded or the entire amendment discarded by President Buhari.
It was gathered by Daily Sun that governors from the APC and the PDP may meet soon to take a common position on the issue and send a delegation to the President to veto the Bill.
The source said Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who is expected to advice the president on the next line of action is siding with governors on the issue.
But Malami, speaking through his special assistant on media and public relations, Umar Gwandu, said he had no plans to advice the president against assenting to the Bill.
“It is not true that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, advised Mr. President for or against the amended Electoral Act.
“The Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has not offered any legal opinion to Mr. President on the matter.”
Speaking on the development, Senate spokesman, Ajibola Bashir, told Daily Sun that it was no longer within their powers to take any decision since the Bill has been transmitted to the president for assent. He said if he returned it, the Senate, vis-a-vis, the National Assembly, would decide on the way forward regarding the contentious issues.
“It is no longer within our powers to change anything. We have transmitted the Bill to the President for assent. If he decides to sign it into law, it is within his powers. If he (Buhari) decides to return it to us, that is still fine. But we have done our job in line with the constitution. We don’t want to join issues with those saying all manner of things,” Bashir said.