Full Text of President Buhari’s Letter Withholding Assent to the 2021 Electoral Bill

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The full text of President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter to National Assembly titled: “WITHHOLDING OF ASSENT TO ELECTORAL ACT (AMENDMENT) BILL 2021” read:

“Further to the letter dated 18th November, 2021 forwarded for Presidential assent, the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 as passed by the National Assembly, I have received informed advice 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.

“Arising from the review, Mr. Senate President may wish to note that the conduct of elections for the nomination of party candidates solely via direct primaries as envisaged by the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 has serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences which cannot be accommodated at the moment considering our Nation’s peculiarities. It also has implications on the rights of citizens to participate in the government as constitutionally ensured.

“The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 seeks to amend certain provisions of the extant Electoral Act 2010. Part of the objective of the Bill  is the amendment of the present Section 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 to delete the provision for the conduct of indirect primaries in the nomination of party candidates such that party candidates can henceforth only emerge through direct primaries.

“Arising from the review, Mr. Senate President may wish to particularly note the pertinent issues implicated as follows to wit:

“The conduct of direct primaries across the 8,809 war the length and breadth of the country will lead to a significant spike in the cost of conducting primary elections by parties as well as increase in the cost of monitoring such elections by INEC who has to deploy monitors across these wards each time a party is to conduct direct primaries for the presidential, gubernatorial and legislative posts.

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“The addition of these costs with the already huge cost of conducting general elections will inevitably lead to huge financial burden on both the political parties, INEC and the economy in general at a time of dwindling revenues.

“The indirect consequences of the issues of high cost and monetization are that it will raise financial crimes and constitute further strain on the economy. It will also stifle smaller parties without the enormous resources required to mobilise all party members for the primaries. This is not healthy for the sustenance of multi-party democracy in Nigeria.

“In addition to increased costs identified above, conducting and monitoring primary elections across 8,809 wards will pose huge security challenges as the security agencies will also be overstretched, direct primaries will be open to participation from all and sundry and such large turn-out without effective security coordination will also engender intimidation and disruptions, thereby raising credibility issues for the outcomes of such elections.

“The amendment as proposed is a violation of the underlying spirit of democracy which is characterized by freedom of choices.

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