The Presidency has explained President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to withhold assent from the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021.
This is coming as the government continues to receive backlash from the media and the political circles.
In an official statement Tuesday night by Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, he said Nigeria’s strength and status as one of the wealthiest economies in Africa must uphold democratic processes enshrined in the Electoral Act of 2010.
Shehu said the amendments have been presented as a means to enhance and build upon our democratic processes.
He noted that after careful review, the President’s Office has found that the opposite is true.
“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.
“Inevitably, the usual voices are making themselves heard, with cynical claims of election rigging and so on. This is nothing new.
“We heard their self-serving cries of fraud in 2015, when we saw the first peaceful transfer of power in independent Nigeria’s history.
“Then again in 2019, when President Buhari was re-elected with a lead of over three million. We will hear them again in 2023.”
Shehu said until then, the President will do whatever he can to protect this country’s democracy, including “withholding assent from this Bill.”
He reminded critics that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is one of those that stand to benefit from a bill that favours wealthier parties.
The presidency stressed that it is not the job of the government to cater for the APC, but to protect Nigeria, her people and democracy.
Shehu told those who want public funds to be spent on politicking during a global crisis to “cease cynical games”.