New Telegraph

Why Buhari won’t sign Electoral Bill, by Malami

…states financial implications of President’s assent for political parties
…says FG financing capital projects with recovered loot

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has said President Muhammadu Buhari decided not to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill because of its excessive cost implications and failure to consider the interest of millions of Nigerians who are not politicians, adding that it is assumed that every political party will spend N200 billion, how much will then be spent in conducting the same primary election in 18 political parties, just to produce a qualified candidate? Malami said this on Sunday in a Radio Kano phone-in programme.

Buhari has come under heavy criticism for refusing to sign the amended bill passed by the National Assembly. The Presidency had raised concern over the section of the bill recommending direct primaries to select candidates for elections. Malami said the bill has an excessive cost implication and capable of worsening the security issues in the country.

He also said signing it into law would trigger court cases. The minister said: “What you should understand about leadership of the country, most especially regarding President Muhammadu Buhari on any law presented to him for signing, he is entitled to certain rights. “When you talk about politics he has rights, if you talk about the economy, the business community also has rights on him; if you are talking about 60 per cent of Nigerians that are not politicians, he also has rights, if you are talking about security, there is also what is expected from him. The President has to consider laws that are sustainable.

“The job of the President is that of politics, economy, business, security, legislation, politicians and non-politicians. This is because the leadership of the country is not for the politicians alone, it is a leadership that affects the social life of the people, their religion, economy, security and others. This is contrary to the leadership of the legislators, which is solely political. “Therefore, the lawmakers are only concerned about their political inclination while the President is concerned about the entire Nigerians made up of politicians and nonpoliticians.

“Any bill signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari is in the interest of all Nigerians irrespective of their inclinations. He is after satisfying the interest of the over 200 million Nigerians he is serving, and not a particular sector.” He further described the financial burden in the new electoral bill not signed by the President. Malami said: “For example, one of the reasons is that there are 18 political parties and a law is founded that will allow for direct primary. The difference between this and the general election is small, because it allows for all Nigerians to say their opinions.

“This means that you will repeat the general elections 18 times. Today, INEC requires N305 billion for the 2023 general election. Now if the general election, which is not the newly-proposed electoral system, will cost this much, how much will it cost to do the same election in the APC? It might cost at least N200 billion, because it will involve everyone. “Although the good side of the law is that INEC is required to monitor it. Therefore, if it is assumed that every political party will spend N200 billion, how much will then be spent in conducting the same primary election in 18 political parties, just to produce a qualified candidate? “Let’s assume there are about 60 million politicians in the country, what about the remaining over 160 million Nigerians who have nothing to do with politics? Are you fair to them? All the people want are good projects, good roads from Abuja to Kano, potable drinking water, good education, school feeding programme and the rest of them. Are you fair to the 160 million Nigerians using their wealth just to conduct primary elections to produce a party candidate, despite other demands by the public? “My answer to this is that, to spend this N305 billion that will be given to the INEC and the about N200 billion to be given to the political parties is not fair to the remaining 160 million Nigerians who have no business about politics and political appointments. Their business is just a better life in Nigeria. This is the issue of cost implications.”

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