The Presidency has said President Muhammadu Buhari rejected the Electoral Act Amendment Bill because the proposed legislation did not seek to enhance the country’s democratic processes.
This was made known in a statement issued by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, on Tuesday.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last week Monday told the National Assembly via a letter that he declined assent to the bill because of direct primaries, which was made the mandatory mode of primaries for political parties to adopt.
Acknowledging the backlash that has been elicited as a result of the decision, the Presidency defended its principal’s action, saying the bill “entail significant legal, financial, economic and security consequences”.
The statement read: “The President’s decision to withhold assent from the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 has come under scrutiny from media and political circles. This is quite correct because it is a decision that will impact all Nigerians. The President’s Office has decided therefore to issue an official statement to make its position clear.
“Nigeria’s strength as a nation and its status as one of the wealthiest economies in Africa with one of its highest standards of living owes above all to its proud democratic processes, which are enshrined in the Electoral Act of 2010.
“It is this act which the new bill seeks to amend. These amendments have been presented as a means to enhance and build upon our democratic processes. After careful review, the President’s Office has found that the opposite is true.
“Rather, the proposed amendments entail significant legal, financial, economic and security consequences for all Nigerians, principal among which would be a severe spike in the cost of holding primary elections by parties – integral to democracies the world over.
“And who would shoulder these costs? The Nigerian taxpayer of course. And who would benefit? Only the richest of political parties. At a time when the nation is seeking to extricate itself from the economic mire of the worst global health crisis in living memory, whatever other merits the new bill may have, now is not the time for such frivolous spending of public money.
“Until then, the President will do whatever he can to protect this county’s democracy, and that includes withholding assent from this Bill.
“It is worth noting that, as one of Nigeria’s largest political parties, the ruling APC is one of those that stand to benefit from a bill that favours wealthier parties. But it is not the job of this government to protect the APC. It is the job of this government to protect Nigeria, her people and her democracy.”