The refusal of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), not to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law is not surprising, Spokesman for the Senate, Ajibola Basiru, has said.
He spoke on Tuesday on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme monitored by .
“I am not disappointed at all. In fact, I would have been surprised if he had given assent given certain circumstances and unnecessary controversies particularly within the ruling party (All Progressives Congress) as to the basis with which direct primaries was inserted,” he said.
The PUNCH had reported that the President in a letter to the Senate and the House of Representatives, asked the National Assembly to remove the controversial clause on direct primaries from the bill and return the proposed law to him for assent.
Buhari also cited insecurity as one of his reasons for withholding his assent to the bill for the second time.
The bill was transmitted to the President on November 19, 2021, after both chambers of the National Assembly hurriedly passed it against the wishes of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress.
Apart from mandatory direct primaries, the bill also makes a provision for electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission and increases the limit for election spending by candidates.
Many civil society organisations have since been mounting pressure on the 9th Assembly to override Buhari’s veto and pass the bill into law but the Assembly said it would discuss the bill upon resumption in January 2022.
2023: Multiple Igbo aspirants won’t ruin South-East’s chances, says Orji Kalu
Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu, has said multiple presidential aspirants from the South-East will not diminish the region’s chances of producing the next President come 2023.
Kalu, a former governor of Abia State, has not hidden his desire to contest in the 2023 presidential election. While he’s yet to declare his ambition, the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, and former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, both from the South-East, have declared their ambition to run for the presidency.
This led to insinuations that the South-East is not united at forging a common front, which might ruin the region’s chances of producing the next President.
However, Kalu who spoke during an interview with on Friday rebuffed the assertions. According to him, since 1999, no region had ever presented a single candidate before winning elections.
The Senator recalled how former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bola Ige and Olu Falae, all from the South-West geopolitical zone of the country, contested the 1999 presidential election.
He said the belief that Igbo must come together to present a single candidate in order to produce the next President of Nigeria were mere blackmails promoted by the media.
He said, “No region forges a common front and I have just given you an example. When Obasanjo ran for elections in 1999, Olu Falae, Bola Ige and three other Yoruba(men) were also contesting for the same presidency. Did that stop the emergence of a President from the South-West? So what are you talking about? It is the beauty of constitutional democracy, the more the merrier, people must contest and the people must choose who can do the job.
“That Orji Kalu came to contest and another Igboman comes out does not mean you won’t vote Orji Kalu. The beauty of democracy is in the ability to make a choice. That is why I initially told my friends (Tinubu, Umahi and Anyim) in the sitting room where we were eating that I won’t run but the beauty of it is that people later persuaded me to come and run because they know that I’m capable of doing the job.
“They know that I have the experience of the job. They know that I have local and international connections. They know I have an excellent understanding of the country. And when you look at me you see the face of Nigeria.”
National merit award: FG announces three recipients in Medicine, Science
Three Nigerians were on Friday announced by the Federal Government as winners of the Nigeria National Order of Merit Award for years 2020 and 2021.
While Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye was named winner in medicine (2020), Prof. Charles Chidume clinched the award in Science (2020), just as Prof. Godwin Ekhaguere emerged winner in Science (2021.
Olutoye, a renowned surgeon and scientist was selected for the award for having performed in-utero surgery on foetus with large tumours while still in their mother’s womb, making him the first African and indeed the first Nigerian to perform this feat.
Chidume, a Professor of Mathematics at African University of Science and Technology, Abuja, was selected for the award for introducing a new and powerful interactive algorithm, which is the only one in the literature that does not involve the resolvent, for approximating a zero of the maximal monotone map.
Ekhaguere, a Mathematician was selected for creating new directions in Mathematics and deploying the outcomes to solve outstanding problems in a branch of Mathematical Physics called Axiomatic Quantum Field Theory.
While announcing the winners at a press conference in Abuja, the Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award, Shekarau Yakubu, said the three winners were found worthy of the award for distinguishing themselves in the various areas of their chosen careers.
According to him, they were selected out of 46 nominations by specialized committees, including external assessors, and considered by a committee of chairmen and the Governing Board of NNMA before the approval of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The award was established by Act No. 53 of the 1979 constitution and was amended by Act No. 96 of 1992 now LFN 122 of 2004, organised by the Governing Board of the NNMA.
It was named Nigerian National Order of Merit and is a separate Order of Dignity in the Highest Honours Category in the fields of Science, Medicine, Engineering/Technology, and Humanities including Arts and Culture.
Each awardee takes home N10 million, a medal and NNOM certificate.
Each year, the NNMA advertises for nominations of candidates for the NNOM Award in the four categories of Engineering/Technology, medicine, Humanities including Arts and Culture and Sciences.
The investiture of the three awardees would be statutorily performed by the President on a date to be announced by the Presidency at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
NOminations open for 2022
Meanwhile, NNMA said nominations for 2022 has begun and would end by March 31, 2022.
The award could not hold in the past two years due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the NNMA was able to hold the assessment of 2020/2021 concurrently and got the Presidential approval on Thursday of the successful recipients of the NNOM Award.
The award has consistently produced the NNOM Laureates including the last year’s recipients with universal acclaim.
The award recipients were usually selected by a committee of assessors and external assessors.