Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, says he expects President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the recently passed but still disputed Electoral Amendment Bill 2021.
Lawan, who made the remark in Abuja on Monday, while speaking to State House Correspondents, after he met with President Buhari, said the National Assembly has done its job by transmitting the passed bill to the Nigerian leader.
He however urged that the President should not be stampeded into signing until he is properly advised by the relevant ministers and aides.
Recall that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila had last Thursday said the President was in support of direct primaries after they met at the Presidential Villa.
Many state Governors, across the two main parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are against direct primaries and have urged the President not to sign the bill into law because of the clause that mandates political parties to conduct direct primaries in selecting candidates.
Asked how the ruling All Progressive Party (APC), can ensure stability when Governors who are critical stakeholders, are not happy with direct primaries as contained in the bill, Lawan said;
“Well, you see, sometimes this kind of disagreement happens. And when they do, I think the best way forward is for people to engage. I always believe, and I’ve said this, that National Assembly members are major stakeholders, governors of APC are major stakeholders and in fact, the presidency is a major stakeholder, in fact, as the biggest stakeholder because it runs the administration, and our party must always try to bring everybody together. I don’t think there will be any day that you will have a political issue that everybody will say the same thing about that agrees with you without any amendment.
“So when we have any section of a party disagreeing with something we should be engaging that’s why we are politicians, we must have that kind of a platform where we discuss the issues, let’s understand each other, and then we make whatever it is that will make this disagreement minimized. Or maybe where possible, eliminated completely.
“So I don’t think it is right to say that governors have disagreed. Maybe some governor’s might have said they don’t like it this way. But that’s normal. So it’s for us to engage and engage and engage. And I believe that.”
On whether the National Assembly was willing to let go of the direct primaries if need be, the Senate President said: “This is not something that we should be talking about now because it has passed the legislature and it’s no more with the legislature. So this is something that is now with Mr President, if we are talking about the electoral amendment bill, the National Assembly has finished its work. And the bill has been transmitted to Mr President. And I think at this moment, all eyes will be on what happens to the bill from the executive side rather than the legislature.
“Yes, of course, when we send a bill to Mr President, we expect the bill to be signed. But there are two things that can happen. Mr President could decide to of course, after consultation with his advisers, sign, or if he doesn’t want to sign he may have his reasons. But I believe that whatever we do in the National Assembly, especially this ninth National Assembly, we think deep, we think wide, we will consult very broadly before we take any position.
“So I believe that whatever we send to the executive arm of government, Mr President for his assent, these are things that are well thought out. And I believe that the expectation of members of the National Assembly will be that this bill is signed. But this is then again, not my own calling, it is for Mr President to make his decision.”
On the President’s response during their meeting, Lawan said: “No, I’m not supposed to tell you what the President said because the President has his spokespersons. So I am neither Femi Adesina nor Garba Shehu. What I can tell you is, amongst other things, because that’s not the only thing, amongst other things we have discussed this. And my opinion is that the National Assembly has done its work. And members of the National Assembly have expressed themselves. This is the majority view and is for the President to look at it and of course, the expectation of the National Assembly is to get the Presidential assent.”