From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari, declaring the National Assembly has done its job by transmitting the recently passed Electoral Amendment Bill 2021 into law to him noting that the expeditions now was for him to sign into law.
Lawan, who briefed State House Correspondents after a meeting with the president, said he would not be stampeded into signing until he was properly advised by relevant ministers and aides.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had, last Thursday, said the president was in support of direct primaries after they met at the Presidential Villa.
Many governors across the two main parties- All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are against direct primaries and have urged the president not to sign the bill into law because of the clause that mandates political parties to conduct direct primaries in selecting candidates.
Asked how the ruling APC can ensure stability when governors who are critical stakeholders are not happy with direct primaries as contained in the bill, Lawan said: “Well, you see, sometimes, this kind of disagreements happen. And when they do, I think the best way forward is for people to engage. I always believe, and I’ve conversed for this, that National Assembly members are major stakeholders, governors of APC are major stakeholders and in fact, the presidency is a major stakeholder, and the biggest stakeholder because it runs the administration, and our party must always try to bring everybody together.
“I don’t think there will be any day that you will have a political issue that everybody will say the same thing about it that agrees with you without any amendment.
“So, when we have any section of a party disagreeing with something we should be engaging that’s why we are politicians, we must have that kind of a platform where we discuss the issues, let’s understand each other, and then we make whatever it is that will make this disagreement minimised. Or maybe were possible, eliminated completely.
“I don’t think it is right to say that governors have disagreed. Maybe some governor’s might have said they don’t like it this way. But that’s normal. So, it’s for us to engage and engage and engage.”
On if the National Assembly was willing to let go of the direct primaries if need be, the Senate president said: “This is not something that we should be talking now because it has passed the legislature and it’s no more with the legislature. So, this is something that is now with Mr. President, if we are talking about the electoral amendment bill, the National Assembly has finished its work. And the bill has been transmitted to Mr. President. And I think at this moment, all eyes will be on what happens to the bill from the executive side rather than the legislature.
“Of course, when we send a bill to Mr. President, we expect the bill to be signed. But there are two things that can happen. Mr. President could decide to of course, after consultation with his advisers, sign, or if he doesn’t want to sign, he may have his reasons. But I believe whatever we do in the National Assembly, especially this Ninth National Assembly, we think deep, we think wide, we will consult very broadly before we take any position. So, I believe whatever we send to the executive arm of government, Mr. President for his assent, these are things that are well thought out.
“And I believe that the expectation of members of National Assembly will be that this bill is signed. But this is then again, not my own calling, it is for Mr. President to take his decision.”
Asked what was the president’s response, Lawan said: “No, I’m not supposed to tell you what he said. Because Mr. President has his spokespeople. So, I am neither Femi Adesina nor Garba Shehu. And my opinion is National Assembly has done its work. And members of National Assembly have expressed themselves. This is the majority view and is for Mr. President to look at it and of course, expectation of National Assembly is to get the presidential assent to it.”.0]
On how long he thinks it will take the president to assent to the bill, he said: “I don’t know why this appears to be the only issue. You see, there is no need for you to lobby for any bill to be signed if you are the chairman of the National Assembly, because you are simply a presiding officer, and you coordinate the views of your colleagues.”