THE Presidency on Monday said President Muhammadu Buhari cannot be forced to sign the electoral bill into law.
Buhari had earlier declined assent to the Bill in 2021, citing concerns over a clause that compelled political parties to adopt direct primaries.
The National Assembly amended the bill and provided the political parties with options for direct and indirect primaries, and consensus.
The bill has been transmitted to the president and some civil society organisations have threatened to embark on a protest to force Buhari to sign it into law.
Reacting to the planned protest in a statement titled ‘Assent to Electoral Bill: No need for saber rattling’, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina said Buhari will not be forced or hoodwinked to sign the bill.
Adesina accused some groups of trying to use the bill to score cheap political points.
“Some interest groups are cashing in on what they consider a delay in the signing of the electoral bill into law by the President to foment civil disorder and muddy the waters.
“One can just pity their ignorance of constitutional requirements as the President has a window of 30 days within which to sign the Bill, or decline assent after it had been transmitted to him by the National Assembly,” Adesina said in the statement.
He said Buhari still has enough time to sign the bill and should not be put under unnecessary pressure.
“It is on record that the amended Bill was sent to the Presidency on January 31, 2022, which means that the Executive could do due diligence on it till March 1, as prescribed by the Constitution.
“A proposed legislation that has to do with the electoral fortunes of the country needs to be thoroughly scrutinised and be made as near-perfect as possible.”
Warning those he accused of playing cheap politics to hold their peace, Adesina promised that the right thing would be done within the lawful time.
About 26 civil society organisations (CSOs) are insisting that Buhari should sign the bill before February 22 if the date for the 2023 general election announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will stand.
The groups have decided to stage a ‘National Day of Protest’ on Tuesday in Abuja in a bid to force Buhari to sign the bill.