The House of Representatives yesterday resolved to move a motion to override President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to assent to Clause 58(8) of the Electoral Act (Amendment) bill, 2022, which provides for statutory delegates.
The lawmakers representing Ethiope federal constituency of Delta State, Hon. Ben Igbakpa, at the plenary yesterday raised a constitutional point of order, citing section 58 (8) of the 1999 constitution which empowered the National Assembly to enact laws and also override the president with two-thirds majority of the members’ vote.
Igbakpa, who was among the lawmakers that lost out in the just concluded primaries, said there was no need for the House to fear anyone.
He, therefore, urged his colleagues to rise up, take the pen, collect signatures and override President Buhari and give Nigerians the enabling electoral law.
Addressing the leadership of the House, he said: “On the 11th of May, with your colleagues, you brought all of us back from our various constituencies so that we can work on the electoral act, as amended. Graciously that was done on the 11th of May. And by 12th, this amendment was transmitted to Mr. President. Mr. President did not just ignore, he travelled out of the country on a condolence visit to Dubai and that created a lot of problems for the country. Nigerians are crying for good leadership and the leadership recruitment process starts with our primaries.
“You have worked hard and that is why I took us to Section 58. We are to make laws and present them to Mr President, and where he does not sign, that same Section 58 gives us the powers to make sure that we pass that law without Mr. President’s assent. There’s nowhere that is said that one arm of government is subservient to the other,” adding that after it tenure Nigerians will remember the House leadership for the good work it had done.
He further insisted that the legislature cannot continue to act as if it was under the executive arm of government.
He went on: “This Constitution gave us the powers just as it gave to them. We must wake up as a Parliament where we pass our laws, and we are sure we have done the right thing we should start overriding Mr. President because this is just the beginning.”
He recalled that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act came into being because the parliament, which the Speaker was part of, overrode President Olusegun Obasanjo.
What are we afraid of? Mr. President has not committed an offence, what he has done is the rule of law and the Constitution and I believe by the time we do our own by overriding veto, we would not have committed any offence.
“W we will be working according to the constitution and the rule of law. This parliament must stamp their feet and tell Nigerians that we are working for them and not for the party or any individual.”
Earlier, the deputy minority leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, had said that the electoral act had been weaponised, calling for activation of relevant Constitutional powers to address the lacuna.
“Something is wrong in an environment, in an institution where the two leaders of the Senate would have to cross to other parties because of inherent inclement conditions.
“Anything that occasions it, anything that warrants it, if it is our Electoral Act, if it is our politics, if it is the environment where we operate, we need to retool. And like you said, we got to do better work and we have to fight on. For me, it is just a battle that is lost, the war is on and we should go ahead to make sure that law is retooled, made clear. And if it requires this parliament to take action to override what has not been signed, we should be willing to do so,” Okechukwu said.
In his ruling, the Speaker Gbajabiamila, who affirmed that the president was in breach of the 30 days provided to communicate his decision to withhold assent, urged Hon. Igbakpa to formally present a motion in that regard.
“Clearly the Constitution says it is 30 days’ leeway and we have gone beyond the 30 days. But the Constitution also says that it is not automatic that you override, but if you are convinced as a House that that amendment must stand.
“If you are not convinced with the argument advanced by the president or in some cases – and in this case, there are no arguments advanced, then you can override. But for us to override I believe you need the required two-thirds, and it cannot be by voice votes.
“So, what I will suggest is that you bring the application, the formal motion notice, perhaps tomorrow – whenever you are able to do that – and we will determine whether or not this House is ready to override or not, I think that’s the proper procedure,” Gbajabiamila said.