New Telegraph

Amended Electoral Act not to enhance democratic processes – Presidency

The Presidency has said the purpose of the amendment of the nation’s electoral laws, to which President Muhammmadu Buhari withheld assent, was not to enhance democratic processes as claimed by its sponsors.

 

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement issued yesterday, said the Act, as amended, entailed legal, financial, economic and security consequences.

 

He said even though assenting to the amended Act could have been in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the President resolved to instead prioritised the interest of Nigerians whose funds would be used to finance parties’ primaries at a time of dwindling resources.

 

Shehu, who acknowledged the criticisms trailing Buhari’s decision to withhold assent to the amended laws, said: “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. “Inevitably, the usual voices are making themselves heard, with cynical claims of election rigging and so on.

 

This is nothing new. “We heard their selfserving 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.”

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