President Muhammadu Buhari has formally declined assent to the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill, passed by the National Assembly.
Buhari’s decision was communicated in a letter addressed to President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan and read at plenary on Tuesday.
“Further to the letter dated Nov. 18, forwarded for presidential assent, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 as passed by the National Assembly.
“I have received informed advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) and I have also carefully reviewed the bill in line with current realities prevalent in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the circumstances.
“Arising from the review, Mr Senate President, may wish to note that the conduct of elections for the nomination of party candidates as solely via direct primaries as envisaged by the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 has serious adverse, legal, financial and economic and security consequences, which cannot be accommodated at the moment considering our nation’s peculiarity.
“It also has implications on the lives of citizens to participate in the government as constitutionally ensured,” the president said.
Buhari added: “The Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 seeks to amend certain provisions of the extant Electoral Act 2010.
“Part of the objective of the bill is the amendment of present section 87 of the electoral Act 2010 to delete the provision for the conduct of indirect primaries in the nomination of party candidates, so that party candidates can henceforth only emerge through direct primaries.
“Arising from the review, Mr Senate President, we wish to particularly note the pertinent issues implicated as follows to it.
“The conduct of direct primaries across the 8,809 wards across the length and breath of the country will lead to significant strife in the course of conducting primary elections by parties and increase in the cost of monitoring such elections by INEC.
“The party is to conduct direct primary elections for the presidential, governorship and legislative posts.
“The addition of these costs is already a huge cost of conducting general election and will inevitably leave a huge financial burden on both the political parties, INEC and the economy in general at a time of dwindling revenues.
“Conducting and monitoring direct primaries in the 8,809 wards will pose huge security challenges as the security agencies will also be over stretched as direct primary will open participation to all and a sundry, as such large turnout without effective security coordination will also engender intimidation and disruption, thereby raising credibility issues for outcomes of such elections.
”The proposed amendment will also give rise to pretorial of litigations, this is based on the issues of law, including the existing constitutions of various registered political parties by INEC.
“These real possibilities will without doubt truncate the electoral programme of the nation as another electoral exercise imminent toward a change of government in 2023.
“In the premise of the above, I hereby signify to the National Assembly that I am constrained to withdrawal assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 in line with provisions of section 58 (1) and (4) of the 1999 constitution as amended.
“It is my considered position that the political parties should be allowed to freely exercise right of choice in deciding which of direct or indirect primaries to adopt in the conduct of their primary elections.
“Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.”(NAN)
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