Rivers lawmakers clash over unsigned electoral bill


 Senator Ideozu: NASS should take the bill back and rework it

–   Rep Chinda, Buhari should sign it

By David Ejiohuo

Two federal lawmakers from Rivers State last week clashed over the fate of the electoral law sitting on President Muhammadu Buhari’s desk unsigned. While one said the National Assembly should not make trouble but should take back the bill and rework it, the other said the president must be made to sign it.


Senator Osinachi Ideozu:

Senator Osinachi Ideozu, the senator representing Rivers West senatorial district, has sued for peace and understanding, following the heightened love lost between the executive and the National Assembly by the refusal of Mr. President to sign the amended electoral bill.

President Mohammed Buhari, for the third time now, has withheld assent to the amended electoral bill sent to him from the National Assembly. The refusal of Mr. President’ has set the members of the eighth National Assembly and the executive at daggers-drawn.

Answering questions from journalists at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa on arrival from Abuja, Senator Ideozu sued for peace and an understanding of the issues at stake between both arms of government.

According to the senator, there should be no need for the claims and counter-claims from the parties but that both should understand that the President had the right to refuse his assent and return any bill to the NASS if he does not believe that all the clauses in it were in order.

The president, he explained, had raised fundamental questions in the bill, which he further noted, were out of place.

Senator Ideozu advised Nigeria and members of the NASS not to vilify the presidency and that the National Assembly should as a matter of urgency, go back and work on the bill as to present it back to Mr. President on resumption from recess.

On the effect of the delay on the electoral time table and the 2019 general election, the Ahoada-born lawmaker said the refusal of the president will not have any negative effect because the nation had options. “If the new bill is not signed, we use the old one that had brought all of us into our seats and there is nothing wrong about it”.

Senator Ideozu used the opportunity and announced his resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“I am not like decamped but I am not a member of the PDP anymore”.

Asked why he left the PDP, Chief Idezu declined comments but said he would address his people first before the press.

He however, threw in the towel in what he described as any political elective positions.

“We are waiting on God to direct our next step of action but it is unlikely that I would seek for any elective elections”.

 Kingsley Chinda:

The need for the Presidency to sign the amended electoral bill into law and save the nation from the negative aftermath of his refusal to do so, had been strongly stressed.

The amended electoral bill that was refused assent by the President, was said to be designed in a way to assist and strengthen the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), to conduct credible elections in the country.

A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, disclosed these facts during the weekend, when he spoke with our correspondent at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.

Answering questions from our reporter on the negative implications of the refusal of the president’s signature on the bill and the 2019 general elections, Hon. Chinda explained that the refusal of Mr. President’s signature to the bill, will continue to weaken the ability of the INEC to conduct credible elections across the nation.

According to him, if the nation is serious about electoral reforms and building institutions especially, the electoral institution as the fundamental of democracy, that the bill must be passed.

“Let me put it on record that if we are talking about building institutions, particularly the electoral institution, which to me is the fundamental of democracy, we must ensure that that act is passed”.

Hon. Chinad explained that what the National Assembly did in the act, was to make recommendations towards electronic voting as to ensure that the card reader is recognized by law because as at today, it had not been recognized.

“If the act is passed into law, Nigeria as a nation, will go all out fully into electronic voting”.

To him, the president’s refusal to assent the bill was setting the country backwards, more so when the country was almost close to election.

“Mr. President’s refusal to sign the bill is setting the country backwards”. “We are almost close to elections and we think that this bill is one bill that the Mr. President should be in a hurry to assent to”. “It beats my imagination because we are in a hurry to spend about N224bn for an election but not in a hurry to strengthen the institution that will justify the huge expenditure”.

He called on the president to as matter of facts, to ask his advisers and handlers for the first time, to let them work towards the infrastructure to strengthen institutions of this nature and not individuals or persons.

According to him, this was the third time the president was withholding assent to the electoral act sent to him by the national assembly.

“President Buhari is setting a record to be the President that had refused to assent to the highest number of bills passed and sent to him by the National Assembly.