An attempt by the House of Representatives to begin the process of overriding the presidential veto to the Electoral Act suffered a setback yesterday.
Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase, who presided over plenary, said the process of going through a motion being followed by the House was wrong.
The Deputy Speaker told the mover of the motion, Ben Rowland Igbakpa, to step it down.
He said the House could not override the President through a motion and that Igbakpa needed to liaise with the House Committee on Rules and Business to enable him adopt the proper procedure for the override.
The President had refused to sign the amendment to Dection 84(8) which would allow statutory delegates to vote during party primaries and congresses.
But while coming under constitutional order during a plenary, Igbakpa said the House must rise up to its constitutional responsibility and invoke Dection 58 of the Constitution to override the President and give Nigerians a law they truly deserve.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila had asked Igbakpa to approach the House with a proper motion, saying the House could not override a veto by collecting the signatures of members.
When Igbakpa was called to read his motion, The Nation observed that the Deputy Speaker held a short consultation with House Leader Alhassan Ado Doguwa; Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu and Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Hassan Fulata.
The House then asked the Igbakpa to step down the motion.
Wase said: “In our Standing Rules, we have procedures for overriding. You don’t come with a motion to override a Bill. What you are supposed to do is to ask the Rules and Business for guidance.
“If you are interested, write to the Speaker, asking for that to happen. Then, we will go through the normal procedure, as enshrined in our Standing Order. We wish to kindly beg you to step down your motion, because that is not the right procedure, and liaise with the Chairman of the House Rules to do the needful.”
Order 12, Rule 12(c) of the House states: “If the House rejects the President’s amendment and agrees to override the President’s veto, then the Bill shall become law. If it is again passed by the House and the Senate by two-thirds majority, the assent of the President shall not be required.
“My guide is that the procedure followed is not right. For you to override any Bill, you need two-thirds of members. It’s not members sitting, but two-thirds of members of the National Assembly. This is why I am guiding you and guiding the House.”
Responding to the Deputy Speaker’s request, Igbakpa said: “On Wednesday (last week), I came under Constitutional Order and the Speaker directed what I am doing now. It means there is a miscommunication somewhere.
“What you are saying is still in order. We would follow it and ensure this is done. Why I am interested in this is the complaint out there.
“If this Ninth Assembly must be remembered for anything, we must be remembered for two critical Bills: the PIB and this Electoral Act. If we leave without putting it in order as it is supposed to be, then we would not have done anything.
“I am not doing it because it is against anybody. It is a constitutional order. It is a rule of law, and I think that is why we are here. If you say I would step it down, I will do that right away so we can follow up.”
In his motion, titled: Need To Invoke Section 58(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to pass again the Electoral Act, 2022, Igbakpa urged the House to “invoke Section 58(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) with respect to the Bill for an Act to Amend the Electoral Act, 2022; that is, Amendment of Section 84(8) thereof, to allow statutory delegates to participate in political parties’ congresses and conventions.
He also prayed the House to immediately communicate its position to the Senate for concurrence.
The National Assembly had transmitted the amended Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act, which allows statutory delegates to vote at party primaries to the President for assent.
But the President declined assent, thereby disallowing all elected officials at the Federal, state, local government and party levels from voting at the just-concluded party primaries.
About 150 members of the Senate and House of Representatives lost return ticket of their parties during the primaries and will not be back in the National Assembly.