The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has faulted the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to decline assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021.
In a statement dated December 22, NBA President Olumide Akpata described the President’s action as unfortunate, but unsurprising.
In withholding assent to the bill, he explained that the President merely exercised a prerogative constitutionally available to him within the broader context of the rule of law, which the NBA stands for.
The union, Akpata stated, was not convinced that, in the circumstance, President Buhari demonstrated good faith in the exercise of his veto powers.
According to him, it is expected the Executive will be more directly involved in the legislative process while the bill passes through the various legislative stages at both houses of the National Assembly, considering its significance.
“But the decision to sit back and watch the National Assembly pass the bill with the supposedly unworkable direct primaries provision did not do justice to the President’s mandate,” the lawyer said.
He stressed that there was no justification for the President to have waited until the final moment before communicating his refusal to assent to the bill, adding that he should have treated the bill with a reasonable measure of urgency, especially in the case where he ultimately withheld his assent.
Akpata, however, asked the National Assembly to rise to the occasion by overriding the President’s veto or immediately effect the necessary changes and return the bill for reconsideration.