Lawmakers Set To Override Jonathan On Electoral Bill, INEC Supplementary Budget


ABUJA, August 17, (THEWILL) - The National Assembly is set for a show down with President Goodluck Jonathan as it has concluded arrangements to reconvene to override the president should he withhold his assent or veto the New Electoral Bill 2010.

The parliament will also override the president if he refuses to sign the 2010 Appropriation (amendment) Bill, the 2010 Supplementary Bill (for civil servants salary increase) and the 2010 Supplementary Bill (for INEC New Voter registration).

Minority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Mohammed Ali Ndume who disclosed this at a press conference today in Abuja accused the president of delaying the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from coming out with an election time table with barely five months to the 2011 elections due to his refusal to sign the New Electoral Bill into law.

The opposition leader explained that the National Assembly has already concluded arrangements to reconvene to override the president should he fail to sign the Electoral Bill and other money bills before him in the next twenty days.

According to Ndume "We have concluded arrangements that if he doesn’t sign within 30 days we will have to reconvene to veto him with 2/3rd majority because Nigerians want this thing done."

He added; "If he wants to sign why is he delaying? If he is withholding his assent why is he waiting for 20 days to do that knowing fully well that we don’t have the luxury of time? The bill on Electoral Act or any other law for that matter is superior and what we did in the constitution was that those issues that affect elections were shifted to the electoral Act. If there is any conflict the constitution is superior to any law in the land."

The minority leader argued that "The act has to be signed because INEC is complaining about time. What the constitution says is that after the communication by the National Assembly it can stay with the President for 30 days and if he does not sign within those days then the National Assembly can veto it.

"But then we know we are on recess now that means coming back from recess that means sending wrong signals where you have majority of members of the parliament belonging to the same party with the President and this is going to be the first time we will have this kind of situation. So I don’t think the President will want us to get into that, " Ndume said.

Commenting on the performances of President Jonathan, Ndume explained that though, he came on board with great enthusiasm but stressed that he was loosing hope on the president. "The coming of Jonathan as a President gave me a little hope especially on his stand on election but I am beginning to wonder because we have been working hand in hand up to the end of the electoral bill but I begin to wonder why the President is still dragging his feet in assented to the bill.

"I may be wrong but I need to be proved that the PDP government is not scared of election because they have never conducted one. So this time that we are about to have one election they are scared otherwise after taking the bill to the President he would have signed it that day because he had an idea of what we did. And if there had been some reservations what I expect the President to do is call the leadership of the National Assembly to iron out some of the areas of disagreement especially when it affect Nigerians.

"We met with him before the bill was passed and he did not indicate that he had any interest that is why I am surprised that he is refusing to sign the bill. He seems to be committed to it then, but I think now he is being distracted. He has forgotten that it is now his time to make history by conducting free and fair election. He started well by appointing people who have credibility to head INEC but then there must be a law that will back that up and we did a good work in the Electoral Act especially in terms of internal democracy in our political parties.

Reacting to insinuations that the President was not in support of the Electoral Bill because of section 89 (g), which provides that no government official or unelected person shall vote at the primary election, Ndume stressed that "Section 89 is just saying that parties must conduct transparent acceptable primaries through either direct or indirect election. And in that case government appointees can only be delegates or voting members if one they are card-carrying members of the political party and if it is through indirect primaries they must go to their various wards and stand for election to be elected as delegate. So I don’t think is a big thing because we are in democracy and the President should not have problem with that.

On the implementation of budget, Ndume said Jonathan was a non-performer explaining; "They are operating without budget it is worse than Obasanjo’s scenario. During Obasanjo there was budget he was not honouring, then during the late Yar’Adua there was budget he was too slow on it but this one now there is no budget and we are just barely five months to the end of the year. Economic activities in the country are now grounded because we don’t know the direction of government in terms of budget."

Adding Ndume said, "he has been the President of Nigeria for over hundred days that is all. Not any achievements recorded. No budget, no Electoral Act even the power sector that he took over as minister there but they have come out to say again that Nigerians should not expect power soon."