President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide its views on the Electoral Act amendment bill which was passed by the National Assembly.
The president has asked the electoral umpire to advise him specifically on the issue of direct primaries which was adopted by both the Senate and House of Representatives chambers of the federal parliament, according to the Punch.
The National Assembly had passed the bill on 9 November and transmitted it to the executive arm of government on 19 November.
According to the newspaper, sources said President Buhari has no problem with the bill but is seeking advice from INEC and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
“We received a letter from the President last week regarding INEC’s position on the Electoral Act amendment, especially as regards the controversial direct primaries which many governors have kicked against. We are supposed to respond within seven days. I know that a response will be sent to the President anytime from now,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.
On whether INEC would endorse the direct primaries, the source said the commission would only indicate its position on the merits and demerits of the bill and let the President decide.
When contacted on Monday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the President would continue to consult with relevant stakeholders on the matter before the bill is signed.
On whom the President would meet as part of consultations on the bill, Shehu said: “The President will consult with those who he believes are important to his decision and who can advise him on the Electoral Act. And he will meet them. But I cannot draw boundaries or name specifics and say this is who the President might meet. He ultimately decides.
President Buhari has until 19 December to sign the bill into law or veto it and communicate his reasons to the National Assembly.
If after 30 days, the President refuses to sign the bill and the National Assembly is not in support of the President’s amendments, the Senate and the House of Representatives can recall the bill and pass it. If the bill is passed in the form it was sent to the President by two-thirds majority votes in both chambers, the bill automatically becomes a law even without the signature of the President.