Member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency, Rep. Sam Onuigbo has reacted to the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

Speaking on a television interview on Wednesday, the lawmaker said if the Senate had gone ahead to override the President as earlier rumoured, the exercise would have been a futile effort, saying it takes the input of both the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass a Bill into an Act.

According to the lawmaker who was also part of a Joint Technical Committee of the National Assembly that worked on the Bill earlier in the year and submitted it to the National Assembly, he is disappointed that the Bill was rejected by Buhari after the Joint Committee worked so hard.

He said this development leaves the lawmakers option to consult with their constituents especially at this festive period.

He said no action will be taken on the Bill until both chambers of the National Assembly return from their Christmas and New Year break.

“Both chambers of the National Assembly are abiding by the provisions of the constitution. Because for you to pass a Bill, it must have the input of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“Assuming the Senate had gone ahead to override the President and the House comes back in January and does not agree with that, it would have been an exercise in futility. There must be consultations between the two chambers before a decision is taken.

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“The options before the legislators with the President withholding assent,is to run consultations. As you know, section 58 of the constitution also provides for the National Assembly to override the President if he or she denies assent to a Bill passed by the National Assembly.

“Unfortunately, this happened very close to the festive season and and we had to go on recess. However, this has afforded us the opportunity to use this time to go back to our constituents who elected us, and then make a final decision when we return, based on the position of our constituents. I was part of the Joint Technical Committee of the National Assembly that was called back very early this year and we worked hard on this Bill and submitted it to the National Assembly.”

He faulted the President’s reason for rejecting the Bill, which according to Buhari is that the cost involved in conducting direct primaries will be high.

Rep. Onuigbo said it’s better to have a high cost of conducting a direct primary election that the cost all Nigerians will bear from misgovernance due to election of bad and incompetent leaders.

He noted that the idea behind direct primaries is to allow those who employ politicians– the electorates– to have a say in deciding who political parties present for elections and by so doing, better candidates emerge.

On the issue of the President saying that the cost involved in conducting direct primaries will be high, well,which one is better? The cost of conducting the election being high, or the cost of misgovernance due to election of bad and incompetent leaders?”

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