By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to withhold assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as forwarded to him by the National Assembly is in the best interest of Nigeria’s democracy, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has said.
The group noted in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that the decision has saved the country from a chaotic electoral process.
According to the BMO, “It is trite that the deployment of a new electoral law only two months to an election is a recipe for chaos. Introducing a new law that redefines fundamentally the processes of our elections is only setting a shaky foundation for the 2019 polls.
“Also, with such fundamental changes such as the introduction of electronic transmission of results, and the compulsion in the use of the card reader without any remedy, among others, INEC staff would have to be trained and re-trained within two months, a period that is certainly not enough for that to happen”, it said.
The group noted further that an ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance discourages any forms of amendments or changes to electoral laws 6 months before any election, and hailed the President for complying with democratic best practices.
It added that it was no fault of President Buhari that the leadership of the National Assembly delayed the amendment since mid 2017.
The BMO pointed out that “The Federal legislature had in the process of presenting the Bill for the President to sign in the last four occasions, made several unforgivable drafting errors. At every point, he identified these errors and sent them back for corrections – and he was right every time.
“So much that the third time the National Assembly passed on the Bill for the President’s signature, they had conspicuously and suspiciously removed the use of the card readers during elections. The President sent it back and insisted that it be included.”
The group noted that the most recent amendment that the National Assembly sent to the President was not just late, but also contained grave drafting errors that if left to proceed would give room for rigging and manipulation of the results of elections.
The BMO warned, “Any attempt by some desperate unpatriotic Federal lawmakers to override the President’s veto would amount to a battle line being drawn between them and the Nigerian people and their right to free and fair elections.
“We call on the sensible members of the National Assembly to prevail and ensure that the electoral processes are not toyed with for the self-serving interests of some of their colleagues; but rather ensure that the errors identified by President Buhari are looked into, rectified and sent back for his assent.”
“The President would not do anything to hurt Nigeria’s democratic and electoral processes, as the last three occasions he sent the Bills back on grounds of grave errors, he was proved right when the National Assembly effected the corrections he proposed, and this time would not be different, BMO said.”