President Muhammadu Buhari has withheld his assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 in line with the provisions of Section 58(1) & (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The President was explicit on his reasons for refusing to sign the bill as contained in his letter to the National Assembly. The President anchored his refusal on the inclusion of direct primaries as the only mode of selection of candidates by the political parties in the Bill.
In the letter titled: “Withholding of Assent to Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021,” the President said he decided to reject Bill based informed advice he received from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government, and have also carefully reviewed the bill in light of the current realities prevalent in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the circumstances.
He said political parties should be allowed to choose either direct or indirect primaries to adopt in the conduct of their primary elections as their respective realities might permit.
The President added that smaller parties may not be able to afford resources required to mobilize all party members for the primaries. He added that direct primaries could be susceptible to manipulation or malpractices as most parties cannot boast of reliable and verified membership register or valid means of identification and that means non-members could be recruited to vote by wealthy contestants to influence the outcome.
He finally added that “It is thus undemocratic to restrict the procedure or means of nomination of candidates by political parties, as it also amounts to undue interference in the affairs of political parties.
“In the premise of the above, I hereby signify to the National Assembly that I am constrained to withhold assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 in line with the provisions of Section 58(1) & (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).