Saraki, Dogara squabble over plot to override Buhari on Electoral Amendment Bill


A plot by legislators to override President Muhammadu Buhari on the amendment to the 2010 Electoral Act has led to a simmering disagreement between Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, Daily Trust reports. Sources have reportedly disclosed that Dogara’s decision to allow the House resolve to re-visit the bill did not go down well with Saraki, who allegedly wants an override.

While the Senate resolved to write to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, over the ruling by a High Court, restraining the National Assembly from further action on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the House has already agreed with the president on two of his three reasons for withholding assent to the bill. 

Hon Abdulrazak Namdas, House spokesman, informed newsmen that the bill would be re-introduced and passed for a second and third reading before it would be sent back to the president. With the decision by the House, it is expected that the Senate may have no other option than to follow suit. 

A Senate source reportedly stated: “We will allow them (House) to conclude work on it and they will send it to us for concurrence.” According to another lawmaker, both chambers would proceed straight to overriding the president without considering his reasons, if the matter was left to the Senate. He added: “But we felt that the president was right in some aspects, that’s why this thing about revisiting the bill came up. As it is, proponents of the bill in the Senate are not happy.” 

He was then asked if both chambers would be able to pull together the two-thirds majority to override the president if he declines assent to the bill again. He replied: “In the Senate, I think they can get the two-thirds, but in the House, I doubt if that is possible. The truth is that there’s an ulterior motive to the amendment. You can see that PDP members are more interested in the whole thing.” 

When asked if Speaker Dogara supported the bill, he stated: “One can say yes and no, regarding his support for the bill. From his body language, he wants to allow members to have their own say. “You know there’s this notion that he’s romancing with the presidency too much and that he’s the only one benefiting. So, he wants to use this opportunity to show that it’s not true. “In our own case, members want the president to lobby, not necessarily directly or by using money, but by giving us what is due to us such as the constituency projects. 

“As at today, we don’t even know what they’ll do about the constituency projects, but by the time they now come suddenly and release it, you’ll see that members will listen to them.” Another lawmaker was asked if the House would be able to get the two-thirds majority to override the president if he rejects the bill again. He stated: “Let’s tell ourselves the truth, whether you like it or not, Buhari is still popular in the North. Anything that has to do with him, one should be very careful not to get into trouble. “You can’t just wake up one day and say you want to challenge him and succeed.” 
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