President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, departed Abuja for Istanbul, Turkey, to attend the third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, further putting Nigerians in suspense over the yet to be assented amended electoral bill forwarded to him by the National Assembly on November 19.
With two days to the 30 days deadline on Sunday, within which he is constitutionally mandated to assent to the bill or return same to the legislature, hope appears dim, as the same fate that befell previous attempts to amend the electoral bill, awaits this latest version.
However, gathered that the failure of the President to communicate his decision on the bill last weekend, presiding officers of the National Assembly had planned to meet with him on Wednesday night or at the end of the week’s plenary duties, yesterday, in a last minute effort to save the controversial Electoral Act Amendment Bill, but the President’s visit to Turkey aborted such plans.
In a statement made available by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President is expected back from Turkey on Sunday, December 19, same day the deadline will elapse.
He will be hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Republic of Turkey at the summit with the theme ‘Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity’, with an agenda that includes reviewing the cooperation between African countries and Turkey since the last summit in 2014.
The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit is coming on the heels of President Erdogan’s recent visit to Nigeria during which several agreements in the fields of energy, defence, industry, mining and hydrocarbons were signed to expand existing bilateral ties.
President Buhari was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Aisha; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Defence, Maj-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd); FCT, Mohammed Bello; Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Agriculture, Mohammed Abubakar; Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd); and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.