John Ameh, Abuja
Mobilisation for the controversial Electoral Act (amendment) Bill, 2018 has intensified at the House of Representatives to secure the mandatory two-thirds majority vote, investigations by The PUNCH revealed on Tuesday.
Two-thirds majority (240 out of 360) vote of members is the constitutional requirement to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on the bill.
The main area of dispute between the President and the National Assembly is the provision on the reordering of the sequence of elections ahead of the 2019 polls.
By the provision of the new bill, specifically, Section 25, the presidential election will come last in the sequence after the National Assembly, governorship and state Houses of Assembly polls would have been decided.
Buhari has since withheld his assent to bill on the grounds that the power to fix the sequence of elections lies with the Independent National Electoral Commission and not the National Assembly.
However, investigations showed that at the House of Representatives, where members resolved to pass the bill afresh, intensive mobilisation had taken place to defeat the President when it would matter most.
One legislative source stated, “We have done our homework. What people outside do not understand is that the National Assembly, especially this 8th Assembly, is an independent arm of government.
“We have argued that, let everyone, Mr. President, legislators, let everyone go and test their popularity. This is one thing (amending the Act) that we have resolved to do and we will do it.
“We have been diplomatic enough by not going all out to override Mr. President when he sent his communication to withhold assent.
“He raised three issues, two of which we agreed with him. We deleted those two, gazetted the bill and began a process of passing it again. But, the election sequence, which is the only area we disagreed with Buhari, is retained in the bill.
“As earlier promised, the House will pass it again and forward it for his assent. If he declines to sign, the process of overriding him will begin immediately. There is a sense of due process in what the House is doing.”
The PUNCH gathered that lawmakers were ready for the override, but were merely waiting for the process of passing the bill afresh to be completed.
“The bill will come up for second reading and debate after the Easter break. Members are set for it,” another National official informed The PUNCH in Abuja.
Investigations indicated that the lawmakers had already analysed how they would vote to pass the bill and override Buhari.
Findings showed that the voting would likely take place along five blocks in the House.
The blocs are loyalists of Buhari in the All Progressives Congress, mainly from the North-West and parts of the North-East; loyalists of the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara; loyalists of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso (mostly from Kano State); loyalists of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; and the Peoples Democratic Party caucus.
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