Saraki, Dogara pledge ‘appropriate, same’ response to Buhari’s rejection of Electoral Act amendment

The Senate president, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara, say they are in agreement in responding to President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

This position was contained in a statement signed by their spokespersons, Yusuph Olaniyonu and Turaki Hassan, on Saturday.

The two leaders said against media reports, the two legislative chambers were working in harmony to react to the president’s latest move.

The statement reads, “Our attention has been drawn to reports in a national daily insinuating that there was a disagreement between Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, over how both chambers of the National Assembly will react to the withholding of assent by President Muhammadu Buhari on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

“We wish to inform the public that there is no such disagreement between the two leaders, and indeed the two chambers of the National Assembly.

“The Senate President and the Speaker, as heads of the two chambers of the National Assembly and representing the views of their colleagues, will want everybody to know that they are on the same page on what is the appropriate reaction to the President’s withholding of assent on the Electoral Act amendment bill.

“There is no disagreement between the two chambers as well as their presiding officers. The leadership of the two chambers constantly hold discussions and are in agreement on what to do, how to do it, when to do it and why it must be done.

“The issue at stake is not personal. It is about deepening democracy. It is about improving our democracy and the National Assembly is on firm constitutional and legal grounds to amend the law as well as take decisions in the manner they have been responding.

“We see that story and the insinuations contained in it as mere distraction and unnecessary misrepresentation aimed at creating division in the Federal Legislature. The Senate President, Speaker and their colleagues urge members of the public to discountenance the report.”

President Buhari in separate letters to the Senate President and Speaker House of Representatives on March 13 had rejected the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act.

The amendment alters the order of national elections, making National Assembly elections to come first ahead of presidential and governorship polls.

Some senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress opposed the move, saying it was targeted at Mr. Buhari who is expected to seek re-election in 2019.

The president said amongst other reasons that the amendment infringes on the rights of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The National Assembly has indicated it will override the president although it is yet to make public its immediate plan of action.

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