Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to heed the advice of the anti-democratic elements who have now populated the political space and putting pressure on him not to give assent to the 2018 Electoral Bill.
Saraki in a statement issued in Ilorin and signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, urged the President to rise above petty politics and act without further delay in the best interest of the country and its democracy by signing the Electoral Bill into law.
He noted that he had been inundated with telephone calls and discussions by members of the National Assembly who expressed concern about the delay in the signing into law of the Electoral Bill as the one month period provided by the law for the President to sign a bill presented to him by the National Assembly is about to expire in the next few days.
The Senate president added that many of the legislators who contacted him were particularly disturbed that certain individuals who are said to be chairmen of political parties had approached the Federal High Court to stop the President from assenting to the bill.
He noted that the jaded tactic employed in the 90s to scuttle the return to democracy when groups like the Association for Better Nigeria, ABN went to court to frustrate the announcement of the results of the June 12, 1993 elections is now being adopted by some masked groups and individuals to stop the signing into law of the Electoral Bill.
He urged President Buhari to dissociate himself from these ugly antics and sign the bill which he said has comprehensively addressed issues that usually clog the process of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.
“It is the prerogative of the President to either sign a Bill into law or refuse it assent. He is free to exercise this prerogative the way he likes in this case.
“What I found surprising is a situation where some people now want to adopt a wrong tactic of abusing the court process to stall the matter. That will be unacceptable and I am sure our judiciary will rely on the lessons from the past and not allow itself to be used.
“We do not want the President to allow the setting of a bad precedent in which somebody will go to court in future to stop the passage of an Appropriation Bill or any essential law which will be important to the development of the country.
“My position remains that the President, his aides, the entire country and the international community are aware that all the concerns raised by the President on the past three occasions he withheld assent to the bill have been addressed by the legislature. We bent backwards on each occasion to accommodate the wishes of the President. We started work on this law since 2016 to prevent a situation where it would become part of the election controversies.
“Every sincere commentator, observer and analyst knows that what we have done with that bill is to raise the level of transparency, credibility and acceptability of our electoral process. We made sure that the law if assented to and honestly applied by INEC and all those concerned will give us an election that will be better than what we had in 2015.
“The President should know that the survival of democracy, its development and the future of Nigeria are far more important than the ambition of any individual or party.
“I am using this opportunity to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to put a stop to this uncertainty in the political process by signing without delay the 2018 Electoral Bill so as to allow INEC and the concerned parties know how to prepare for a credible process”, Saraki stated.