•Melaye flays Buhari for withholding assent
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has given reasons why President Muhammadu Buhari denied assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, stating that the law had not captured the interest of all Nigerians.
In a live radio programme monitored in Abuja, the minister said the new law “has an excessive cost implication, is discriminatory, as well as supportive of insecurity. Signing it into law will only initiate a new crisis that will lead to court cases.”
He went on: “What you should understand about the leadership of the country, most especially as it regards President Buhari on any law presented to him for signing, is that 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 imposed on him. If you are talking about 60 per cent of Nigerians that are not politicians, if you talk about the economy, 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.”
Malami stated: “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 lives of Nigerians made up of politicians and non-politicians.
“Any bill signed into law by President 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.”
On the financial burden, Malami observed: “For example, one of the reasons is that there are 18 political parties and a law is founded that will allow for direct primaries. The difference between this and the general elections is small because it allows for all Nigerians to come about and say their opinions.
“This means that you will repeat the general elections 18 times. Today, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) requires N305 billion for the 2023 general elections.”
“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?”
HOWEVER, Senator Dino Melaye, who represented Kogi West in the Eighth and part of the Ninth Senate, has berated the President for declining assent to the bill, describing him as an “enemy of democracy.”
In an open letter to the President, which he made available to The Guardian yesterday in Abuja, Melaye argued that President Buhari had made “mockery of the electoral reforms he promised to bequeath to Nigerians.”
The letter reads: “I have tried so hard to make sense of the reasons given by you, Mr. President, for the rejection of the electoral bill but to no avail.”
Reminiscing on the electoral reforms you promised us Mr. President, I expected you to surprise us for once, to tell millions of Nigerians that you have our interest at heart but yet again, you failed us.
“Mr. President, you have made mockery of the electoral reforms you promised Nigerians and all effort to have a better election come 2023 has been truncated by your action. Mr. President, you have demonstrated once again that you are an enemy of democracy.”