Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has for the fourth time rejected putting his signature to the Amendment made to the Electoral Act by the National Assembly.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate) Ita Enang discloses this to State House Correspondents on Friday while the Federal Executive Council (FEC) was ongoing.
The Presidential Aide said Buhari has communicated to the National Assembly on the decision taken on the Electoral Act.
Enang said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has taken decision on Electoral Act Amendment bill 2018 in accordance with his power under the 1999 Constitution and has communicated that decision to the Senate and House of Representatives in accordance with the law.”
Asked whether the bill was assented or rejected, he said “the president has taken a decision in a accordance with the powers vested in him according to the constitution. And by convention that decision contained in the communication can only be revealed by the person to whom that decision is addressed. But the electoral bill has left Mr. President because he has taken a decision and has remitted it back.”
Pushed further for details of the decision he said, “Thank You very much but this is all the law allows me to say by convention. Mr. President has sent that communication to the National Assembly.”
When asked why the President returned the bill back to NASS he said, “the President has communicated his decision to the National Assembly and that is what it is now.”
When asked if it is safe to say he rejected the bill, Enang replied, “it is safe to say that the President has taken decision as allowed by law and has communicated that decision to the Senate and the House of Representatives.”
When asked the implication of the decision on the 2019 elections, the presidential aide said, “The implication of the decision is that the President has taken action on the bill within the time allowed by law.”
Enang has only on Monday urged Nigerians to disregard rumours suggesting that President Buhari will not sign the controversial Electoral Act (amendment) Bill 2018.
Enang had said Buhari was still operating within the time frame allowed by the Nigerian Constitution to either sign the bill or withhold his assent.
By the provision of the constitution, the President is to either sign or write the National Assembly within 30 days of a piece of legislation being transmitted to him, conveying his reasons to withhold his assent.
Buhari had previously rejected the bill three times, the last time being August 30, when he returned it to the National Assembly.
The lawmakers had amended the areas the President raised objections to and sent the bill back to him for his assent on November 7.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has assented to the amendment made to the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) Act. With the assent, NOUN can now operates like other conventional universities.
Enang said, “Again, President Buhari has also assented to National Open University Amendment Act, which allows the National Open University to operate as all other universities, having the same power and functions and the same administrative structures eliminating possible discrimination as some use to want to have on its products and programmes.
“It has also allowed the establishment of some centers to be called study centers and given conditions for the establishment of such study centers.”