from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – A LEOPARD cannot change its spots.
That is the insinuation of critics of Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, a one-time military dictator, after his rejection of the amended Electoral Act.
The proposed legislation is anticipated to enhance the holding of democratic elections in the West African country, the continent’s most populous with an estimated 213 million people.
Buhari has cited the high cost of conducting direct primary election as one of the reasons for the rejection of the bill.
The bill proposes the organisation of primaries to designate candidates for the presidential election scheduled for 2023.
A majority of senators have vowed to override the veto of the president. However, the head of state has the backing of the Governors’ Forum.
Chief Willy Ezugwu, Secretary General, of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), said the news that Buhari had withheld assent to the bill and returned it to the National Assembly was “not surprising.”
“What would have been shocking is Mr President assenting the bill,” Ezugwu said.
He recalled initially declined to sign the Electoral Act Amendment three times during the life of the eight National Assembly, led by Bukola Saraki, when Buhari was elected in 2015.
Ezugwu said even when the National Assembly removed all the clauses Buhari stood against following his second rejection of the amendment to the Act, the president still rejected the Bill, claiming that the 2019 election was too close for him to sign the bill into law.
“So, it was not surprising that the President refused to sign the latest amendment to the Electoral law. It follows his tradition,” Ezugwu said.
He alleged Buhari and his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were not interested in free and fair elections.
“They vehemently stood against electronic transmission of election results,” Ezugwu said.
“And here is a president and a political party that are beneficiaries of reformed electoral process but fail all the time to deepen the same democratic process that brought them to power.”
Buhari (79) was a military head of state between 1983 and 1985, after taking power in a military coup.
He was elected in 2015 pledging he was now a democratic. It was the first time the opposition secured power.
Buhari was re-elected in 2019 during an election the opposition alleged was flawed.
– CAJ News