President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly to explain why he did not sign the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
According to reports, the president requested that the National Assembly remove the direct primary section and re-present the Bill.
The president also stated in the letter that the current state of affairs in the country would prevent him from signing the bill.
According to the letter, the president rejected the Bill due to the high expense of holding direct primaries, the security difficulty of monitoring the election, violations of people’ rights, and marginalization of tiny political parties.
Buhari stated that adopting direct primaries has ramifications for citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed right to engage in governance.
The holding of direct primaries, according to the president, will result in a significant rise in the expense of organizing primary elections by parties, as well as an increase in the cost of monitoring such elections by INEC.
He said that the direct repercussions of the high cost are monetization, which would promote and increase financial crime while putting further burden on the economy.
According to him, it would also suffocate smaller parties since they will lack the vast resources necessary to organize all party members for the primaries, a condition that is not good for the survival of multiparty democracy in Nigeria.
The president further stated that security agencies will also be overstretched, as direct primaries will be open to participation from all and sundry.
“Such large turnout without effective security coordination, will also engender intimidation and disruptions, thereby raising credibility issues on the outcomes of such election.
“The amendment as proposed is the violation of the underlying spirit of democracy, which is characterised by freedom of choices of which political party membership is a voluntary exercise of the constitutional right of freedom of association,” he said.
President Buhari also stated that the proposed amendment could result in a slew of litigations based on various grounds and legal issues, including, but not limited to, the fact that the proposed amendment could not work in retrospect, given that the existing constitution of the parties already registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) allows for direct, indirect, and consensus primaries.
Buhari stated that his decision is based on informed advice from key government ministries, departments, and agencies, as well as a comprehensive study of the law in light of the present reality in the country.