Presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) Obiageli Ezekwesili said the latest rejection of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari showed he was against the tenets of democracy.
Buhari had rejected the bill for a fourth time last week, saying, among other things, that signing the bill into law so close to the country’s general elections might cause confusion and lead to the disruption of the polls.
“As a candidate in the 2019 election for the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I have called this emergency press conference in order to let the world know that President Buhari’s action is contrary to the tenets of our democracy,” Ezekwesili said at a press conference in Abuja.
Ezekwesili called on Buhari to reverse his decision. She warned that Buhari’s decision to decline assent to the bill was capable of destabilising the country.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is, therefore, called upon to immediately reconsider his latest, fourth, rejection of the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 that was transmitted to him by the National Assembly to be signed into law.”
Buhari’s aide on National Assembly matters Ita Enang in September, said Buhari could not assent to the bill the third time it was submitted due to ‘drafting errors’ and omission of the use of card readers. But Ezekwesili said the reasons were ingenuine.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and a member of the Coalition of United Political Parties, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), had also said Buhari lied about his reason for declining assent to the amended electoral bill.
According to Ezekwesili, “the excuses of the President for not completing the process that will give Nigeria one of the soundest electoral laws in the world is an assault on our democracy and must be rejected roundly by all Nigerians.”
She alleged that Buhari “is dangerously setting up the country and the people for political destabilisation in 2019.
“Nothing of the excuses of President Muhammadu Buhari that there are observed errors when he, for the fourth time, sent the bill back to the National Assembly has any iota of credibility nor evidential persuasion for the Nigerian electorate,” she said.
The Director of Media of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo, said the inclusion of some ‘suspicious’ provisions into the Electoral Act amendment bill was Buhari’s reasons not to assent the bill.