Goodluck Jonathan is not a rubber stamp that will just sign the electoral act which the National Assembly forwarded to him for assent recently, the Minister of state for information and communications, Labaran Maku,Photo Above has said.
Fielding questions from the press in Abuja, Mr Maku said President Jonathan understood the anxiety of Nigerians about the need to hasten up the process on free and fair elections in 2011, but that he would not act on such anxieties and cause more problems for the system.
“The normal process of presidential assent to any law passed by the National Assembly is that the president would forward such acts to relevant departments of government, including the ministry of justice, which would study it and offer advice appropriately. If a law is passed to a sitting president, it is not just for rubber stamp.
“The president is not a rubber stamp. His duty is to go through this law and ensure that there is nothing in it that will cause problem during elections or that will be difficult to enforce. His duty is to ensure that the law that is forwarded to him is in accordance with the constitution and that it is something that is easily operable.”
He insisted that Mr Jonathan is doing so much for the attainment of free and fair elections next year and appealed to Nigerians “not to insinuate on matters that have not arisen”.
He recalled that the president has appointed the most credible person to head the Independent National Electoral Commission, just as he fast-tracked the financial requirement of the commission through the National Assembly.
Attahiru Jega, the chairman of INEC, had stated that further delays in the signing of the constitutional amendment was going to hamper our nation’s dream of free and fair elections. He had also said the commission’s activities depended on the finalisation of the amendments, regretting that the president was yet to assent to the new Electoral Act.
The House of Representatives leadership, last Tuesday had also threatened to override the president if he fails to sign the document and approve the N87.7 billion INEC budget passed by the Assembly, after 30 days.
“All these have constrained INEC’s preparations for both the voters’ registration exercise and the elections,” Mr Jega had said.