The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) says President Muhammadu Buhari has saved the country a chaotic electoral process by withholding his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
The group said this in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Messrs Niyi Akinsiju and Cassidy Madueke, respectively, on Tuesday in Abuja. It noted that Buhari’s decision not to sign the proposed law was in the best interest of Nigeria’s democracy.
“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,” the BMO said.
The group noted further that an ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance as well global best practices discourages any form of amendments or changes to electoral laws six months before any election.
While hailing the president for complying with democratic best practices, it added that it was no fault of Buhari that the leadership of the National Assembly delayed the amendment since mid-2017.
“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 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,” it said. The group also 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.
BMO said: “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 National Assembly to 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.