Electoral Bill: National Assembly is concern about political inclination only, says Malami
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said members of the National Assembly have allowed only political inclination to override other national interest on the electoral bill.
Besides, the minister insisted that presidential assent on the electoral bill as it stands would only fuel litigation among other challenges rather than bring about solution in the electoral system.
The minister, who made the assertion while featuring on live programme on one of the local radio stations in Kano, explained why president Muhammadu Buhari would not sign the new electoral bill that was recently returned to the National Assembly for amendment.
The presidency had raised concern on the section of the bill that recommend direct primary system for political parties for selection of candidates to represent the party for election.
Although, the presidency gave reason why the assent was denied, reactions have continued to trail President Muhammadu Buhari’s action, many describing it as deliberate plan to strengthen powers of governors and godfathers, who decide who become what in politics.
Malami stressed that signing such a bill into law would amount to excessive cost implication for political parties and government, aside the tendencies to frustrate the relative peace in the country.
According to him, “What you should understand about leadership of the country, most especially, as it regards President Muhammadu Buhari on any law presented to him for signing, the president is entitled to certain rights.
“When you talk about politics he has rights, if you talk about economy the business community also have rights 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.
“The job of the president is that of politics, economy, business, security, legislations, politicians and non politicians. This is because the leadership of the country is not for the politicians alone, it is a leadership that affects social life of the people, their religion, economy, security and others. This is contrary to the leadership of the legislators which is solely political.
“Any bill signed into law by President Muhammadu 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.”
He further spoke on the financial burden in the new electoral bill not signed by the president.
“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 election 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 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) requires N305 billion for the 2022 general elections. Now if the general election, which is not the newly proposed electoral system, will cost this much, how much will it cost to do the same election in the APC? It might cost at least N200 billion because it will involve everyone. 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 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?
Let’s assume there are about 60 million politicians in the country, what about the remaining over 160 million Nigerians who have nothing to do with politics? Are you fair to them? All the people want are good projects, good road from Abuja to Kano, portable drinking water, good education, school feeding programme and the rest of them. Are you fair to the 160 million Nigerians using their wealth just to conduct primary election to produce a party candidate, despite other demands by the public?
“My answer to this is that, to spend this N305 billion that will be given to the INEC and the about N200 billion to be given to the political parties is not fair to the remaining 160 million Nigerians who have no business about politics and political appointments. Their business is just a better life in Nigeria. This is the issue of cost implications,” Malami said.