In a letter addressed to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu has declined assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill because of the direct primaries clause.
In the letter, the President cited several issues that could arise as a result of the.
The clause mandates all political parties to use the direct primaries format in choosing a candidate for any election.
During the plenary session on Tuesday, the upper and lower chambers read the content of the President’s letter.
According to the President, direct primaries are expensive and will further exacerbate the monetisation of the electoral process in the country.
“The conduct of direct primaries across the 8,809 wards in 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.
“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.”
He also posited that in a bid to source funds incumbent political office holders will be tempted to steal public funds.
“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.
The President also referenced the security situation in the country, stating that it will be a herculean task for security agencies to maintain law and order in such a circumstance, opening the door for unscrupulous elements to take advantage of the situation.
Consequently casting aspersions on the integrity of the entire process as well as increasing the likelihood of litigations amongst party members.
“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 President added that his decision was informed by advice from relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of Government after a thorough review.
Although, it should be recalled that just a few weeks ago, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declared its support for the bill, stating that it will help further the entrenchment of democratic processes.