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Buhari writes Senate, explains decision to withhold assent to Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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The Senate has received a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari explaining his decision to withhold presidential assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 passed by the National Assembly.

President Buhari’s position was conveyed in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and read during the start of plenary after the chamber came out from a closed session.

The closed session which lasted for thirty-seven minutes started at exactly 10:44am ended 11:21am.

President Buhari in the letter dated December 13, 2021, explained that his decision to withhold assent to the electoral bill was informed by advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government after a thorough review.

According to the President, signing the bill into law would have serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences on the country, particularly in view of Nigeria’s peculiarities.

He added that it would also impact negatively on the rights of citizens to participate in the government as constitutionally ensured.

The full text of the letter titled, “WITHHOLDING OF ASSENT TO ELECTORAL ACT (AMENDMENT) BILL 2021” reads:

“Further to the letter dated 18th November, 2021 forwarded for Presidential assent, the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 as passed by the National Assembly, I have received informed advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Government, and have also carefully reviewed the Bill in light of the current realities prevalent in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the circumstances.

“Arising from the review, Mr. Senate President may wish to note that the conduct of elections for the nomination of party candidates solely via direct primaries as envisaged by the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 has serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences which cannot be accommodated at the moment considering our Nation’s peculiarities. It also has implications on the rights of citizens to participate in the government as constitutionally ensured.

“The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 seeks to amend certain provisions of the extant Electoral Act 2010. Part of the objective of the Bill is the amendment of the present Section 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 to delete the provision for the conduct of indirect primaries in the nomination of party candidates such that party candidates can henceforth only emerge through direct primaries.

“Arising from the review, Mr. Senate President may wish to particularly note the pertinent issues implicated as follows to wit:

“The conduct of direct primaries across the 8,809 war the length and breadth of the country will lead to a significant spike in the cost of conducting primary elections by parties as well as increase in the cost of monitoring such elections by INEC who has to deploy monitors across these wards each time a party is to conduct direct primaries for the presidential, gubernatorial and legislative posts.

“The addition of these costs with the already huge cost of conducting general elections will inevitably lead to huge financial burden on both the political parties, INEC and the economy in general at a time of dwindling revenues.

“The indirect consequences of the issues of high cost and monetization are that it will raise financial crimes and constitute further strain on the economy. It will also stifle smaller parties without the enormous resources required to mobilise all party members for the primaries. This is not healthy for the sustenance of multi-party democracy in Nigeria.

“In addition to increased costs identified above, conducting and monitoring primary elections across 8,809 wards will pose huge security challenges as the security agencies will also be overstretched, direct primaries will be open to participation from all and sundry and such large turn-out without effective security coordination will also engender intimidation and disruptions, thereby raising credibility issues for the outcomes of such elections.

“The amendment as proposed is a violation of the underlying spirit of democracy which is characterized by freedom of choices.

“Political party membership is a voluntary exercise of the constitutional right to freedom of association. Several millions of Nigerians are not card-carrying members of any political party.

“Thus, the emphasis should be on enabling qualified Nigerians to vote for the candidate of their choice during general elections as a means of participation in governance and furtherance of the concept of universal adult suffrage or universal franchise.

“The proposed amendment may also give rise to plethora of litigations based on diverse grounds and issues of Law including but not limited to the fact that the proposed amendment cannot work in retrospect given that the existing constitution of the Parties already registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) permits direct, indirect and the consensus primaries. This real possibility, will, without doubt, truncate the electoral program of the Nation as another electoral exercise is imminent towards a change of Government in 2023.

“Nigeria is at the moment still grappling with the issues of monetization of the political process and vote buying at both party and general elections. The direct implication of institutionalizing only direct primaries is the aggravation of over-monetization of the process as there will be much more people a contestant needs to reach out to thereby further fuelling corruption and abuse of office by incumbent contestants who may resort to public resources to satisfy the increased demands and logistics of winning party primaries.

“Direct primaries are also subject or susceptible to manipulation or malpractices as most parties cannot boast of reliable and verified Membership Register or valid means of identification which therefore means non-members can be recruited to vote by wealthy contestants to influence the outcome. Rival parties can also conspire and mobilize people to vote against a good or popular candidate in a party during its primaries just to pave way for their own candidates. Whereas where voting is done by accredited delegates during indirect primaries, the above irregularities are not possible.

“The major conclusions arrived at upon the review are highlighted hereunder, to wit:

“Asides its serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences, the limitation or restriction of the nomination procedures available to political parties and their members constitutes an affront to the right to freedom of association. It is thus undemocratic to restrict the procedure or means of nomination of candidates by political parties, as it also amounts to undue interference in the affairs of political parties.

“Indirect primaries or collegiate elections are part of internationally accepted electoral practices. More so, direct primaries are not free from manipulations and do not particularly guarantee the emergence of the will of the people especially in circumstances like ours where it is near impossible to sustain a workable implementation framework or structure thereof.

“In the premise of the above, I hereby signify to the National Assembly that I am constrained to withhold assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 in line with the provisions of Section 58(1) & (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“It is my considered position that the political parties should be allowed to freely exercise right of choice in deciding which of direct or indirect primaries to adopt in the conduct of their primary elections as their respective realities may permit.”

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Politics

Osun not for sale to highest bidder, Oyetola campaign council replies Adeleke, PDP

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Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola
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...warns him not to overheat polity 

The Adegboyega Oyetola Campaign Council has described as absurd, unthinkable and totally unacceptable the boast by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke that he had acquired enough money in hard currencies to buy Osun and its people for the July 16 Governorship contest.

In a statement signed by its Director-General, Senator Ajibola Bashiru, the Campaign Council declared that Osun was not for sale to the highest bidder, just as it noted that on daily basis, the PDP candidate is proving to the Osun electorate that he had nothing to offer.

Senator Ademola, the PDP candidate had over the weekend during the party’s Osun Central Campaign rally, said “Osun people, you are the ones to decide. If it is about money, I have enough. I came with plenty money (hitting his pocket with his right hand). And it is not only naira, I came with dollars, pounds and Euro. This time around in Osun, it is fire for fire.”

Reacting to Ademola’s comment, the Oyetola Campaign Council said: “Osun people are not gullible. We have left them in no doubt of the quality our party, the APC and our Administration are made of, including the capacity of our candidate to deliver in the past three and half years. We have proved through our inclusive governance strategy that our people are our strength and that we do not take them for granted and we will never take them for granted. This explains why in spite of the way the 2018 election went, our administration began infrastructure intervention from Ede, the hometown of the PDP candidate.

“Osun people are enlightened, they Know that the State and its citizens are not up for sale to the highest bidder. Therefore, the PDP candidate should keep his money. Or better still, he could deploy those resources to establish industries to provide jobs for the people. This way, he will also be supporting the present Administration’s noticeable efforts in the last three and half years to industrialise the State and change its narrative as a Civil Service State, to one bubbling with economic activities.

“It is on record that the Oyetola-led administration has since inception taken concrete steps to open up the State for investments, and has been able to attract a number of investments into Osun, contributing to the economic growth of the State.

“We assure the PDP candidate that, like the Administration did to other players in the private sector, we will provide a level playing ground for his business to thrive and ensure Osun and its people derive maximum benefit from the investment.

The Campaign Council also cautioned Adeleke against overheating the polity with his incendiary comments and violent tendencies, wondering what he meant by saying ‘it’s fire for fire this time around’.

“As a responsible party, we urge Senator Adeleke and his party to embrace peaceful conduct and decorum in their political engagements and electioneering. We must avoid any comment or action that can jeopardise the peace and stability of our State,” the dded.

 

 

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Osun 2022: Over 500 PDP loyalists defect to APC in Ayedade LGA

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Logo of APC and PDP
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… attribute decision to Oyetola’s excellent performance in all sectors

…we’re coasting to victory already — APC

 

The ranks of the main opposition party in Osun — the People’s Democratic Party, PDP — have been  heavily depleted as over 500 of its  members have denounced their membership to join the ruling  All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ayedade Local Government Area of the State precedent to the July 16 governorship election.

The defectors attributed their decision to the modest achievements the ruling party under the administration of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has recorded in the last three and half years.

This is even as the leadership of the APC in the State said the mass defection was a pointer to the fact that the party was already coasting to victory in the forthcoming guber poll.

Until the official announcement of their defection, the defectors were members of five different PDP groups who have pitched tent with the ruling party, having expressed satisfaction with the way and manner the APC is being run, the government’s good governance scorecard, provision of quality and the purposeful leadership of the Governor.

The electoral umpire– the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC — has fixed July 16 for the governorship election in the State and the recent defection would in no doubt contribute significantly to the positive turnout and performance of the ruling party particularly in affected areas.

Speaking on behalf of the decampees on Sunday, the leader of the defectors, Chief Raufu Lukman, noted that their decision was hinged on the quest to collectively advance the state with the members of the ruling party.

Chief Lukman who was very enthusiastic and upbeat said they willingly packed their belongings from the PDP, having attested to the quality of leadership and membership of the ruling party who he described as “worthy party men and women of virtue”.

He said further: “As you can see, we are here today in large number to confidently denounce our membership from the PDP and as well announce to the whole world that we are in APC, the party that means well for the masses.

“Our decision to leave the former party at this critical time is an indication of the fact that the present Administration under the leadership of Governor Oyetola has performed creditably well in all the sectors of the economy and we are bent to contribute our own quota to collectively advance our State for the good and betterment of the citizenry.

“My colleagues and I who are members of the defecting groups running to 500 to 550 members are resolute to work collectively with others to ensure all-round victory for the party”, he added.

Receiving the defectors, the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Bola Oyebamiji, commended the decampees for taking a bold step to join the ruling party whose imprints remain unparalleled in the history of the State.

Mr Oyebamiji said: “I’m happy today because members of the opposition party — the PDP have seen and reckoned with the great things we have achieved and consequently seen the need to join the progressive family. This is a rare feat and a good thing for our party and our members, particularly in Irewole Federal Constituency.

“The implication of their decision remains the fact that the APC is the party to beat and the party that is taking the State to promised land. This is in line with the adage that says, ‘If you can’t beat them you join them’. This is in fulfilment of the directive of Mr. Governor to win more members into our folds and we thank God that many have seen the good things that our Governor has done in all the aspects of the economy.

“To us as party loyalists, this is a challenge for us to further encourage Mr. Governor to do more since his good works have been manifesting for the goodness of the state and members of the party.

“Allah be on our side, certainly, we’re going to win. 500 people from PDP is not a joke and this will affect us positively. By the grace of God, we’re going to record landslide victory in all the local government areas of the State”.

In their separate remarks, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce, Mrs. Christiana Ogunfolaju; Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Mr. Sunday Akere and APC State Women Leader, Mrs Kudirat Fakokunde, described the decision of the defectors as a reflection of the acceptability of Governor Oyetola.

According to them, the defection is a testament to the monumental achievements of Governor Oyetola in the past three and half years in Osun and it shows that the State under his watch has made unprecedented successes.

 

 

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Abiru submits senatorial nomination form

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Senator Adetokunbo Abiru,
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The Chairman, Senate Committee on Industries and the lawmaker representing Lagos East, Senator Adetokunbo Abiru, has submitted his expression of interest and nomination forms for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Lagos East Senatorial District ticket.

Abiru, who is seeking a fresh term at the Senate, won the Lagos East senatorial by-election in December 2020. He replaced the late Senator Adebayo Osinowo, who died on June 15, 2020.

There has been a groundswell of support for Abiru’s re-election bid across the Lagos East  District, as groups, eminent leaders and residents adjudged his performance in office in the last 16 months as outstanding and unprecedented.

An independent support group, Abiru Consolidated Team (ACT), led by its convener, Peju Akinyemi and co-convener, Shakiru Seidu, paid a courtesy visit to Abiru at his constituency office in Ikorodu to pledge support for his ambition.

 

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