The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has asked the National Assembly to expunge the Direct Primary provision inserted in the Electoral Act, which President Muhammadu Buhari failed to assent to.
The CUPP, which said that it doubt if the National Assembly can override President Buhari’s veto, added that it was because of the electronic voting provision in the electoral act, was the reason why the President didn’t assent the Bill.
In a world press conference in Abuja, the CUPP on Tuesday, December 21, 2021, spokesman, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, also urged the National Assembly to send the Bill back to the President after expunging the Direct Primary’s provision.
While appealing to the National Assembly to cancel its recess, Ugochinyere said, “It is a sad day for our nation’s democracy and our quest to have a better, transparent and working electoral process. The president has hit hard on the desire of Nigerians to have a better enhanced electoral law.
“I want to say that this action of the president is shameful. Why did I say that? Because, he is a man who during his time time in the APP and in ANPP, was advocating for enhanced electoral law.
“He was campaigning and saying the first thing he would do if voted in as president was to amend the Electoral Act and make our electoral process more transparent. And now that the man has been elected as the President and Commander-In-Chief with overwhelming majority in the parliament by his party, he is frustrating the efforts at making electoral system more transparent.
“Remember that the first electoral amendment was not approved by the president. He declined assent. And this is a president that benefited from the decision of the last administration, led by President Goodluck Jonathan to amend the Electoral Act.
“If Jonathan had not amended the Electoral Act by making our electoral process a little bit transparent and electronic, would Buhari had won that election in 2015? Jonathan did it because of his love for the country. But here is a man (Buhari), who says he loves the country better but cannot give Nigerians a better electoral process now that he is almost getting to seven years in office.
“This is sad for Nigerians yearning for a better electoral process in the country.
“This is very painful, this is very discouraging and this clearly proves what we have been saying that the president has no intention to give the country an electoral law that is better because he and his party wants to rig their way in the 2023 general elections.”
He added that “the first Electoral Act amendment,he (Buhari) declined assent to, the president cited issue of ECOWAS treaty,closeness to the last election and all that. “
“When I raised this issue last week that the president had no intention of signing this Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed and sent to him by the parliament, some said I was raising false alarm but here we are today. What have we seen.
“I told them that leave this issue of Direct or Indirect Primary that this is secondary to the issue contained in the Electoral Act.
“He knew he was not going to sign the electoral law but waited till the time the National Assembly would shut down before declaring his intention known, as the law says this thing must be done six months before the commencement of election.
“This is wicked. This is the plan they have so that when it gets close to election, they will now tell Nigerians that they can no longer sign the law because it is close to election.”
On whether the National Assembly should rather override the president’s veto, Ugochinyere said, “as far as we are concerned, we in the opposition have doubt about the capacity of the present leadership of the National Assembly to veto the president.
“If the issue of direct and indirect primary is why the president failed to sign the electoral law, let parliament expunge that area and retransmit the remaining one to him. Let us see the reason he would use in not signing it again.
“If the parliament was responsive, there is no need of going on recess at a time like this. All that is required to do is just one or two sittings and the amendment would be made and transmitted back to the president for assent”, he opined.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.