Malami justifies Buhari’s decision on Electoral Bill

December 28, 2021
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The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), has justified President Muhammadu Buhari’s rejection of the Electoral Amendment Bill.

He said the President withheld assent to the Bill and returned it to the National Assembly in the overall interest of Nigerians.

Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina urged lawmakers not to take hasty decision, but to consider every available option.

Malami said senators and House of Representatives members were only concerned about their political inclination in drafting the bill, noting that the cost implications of direct primary were huge.

The AGF, who spoke during an Hausa programme on Radio Kano, said the President has rights to take decision on any bill presented to him.

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He said the President will only sign laws that are sustainable.

The Hausa audio version of the interview on Sunday was made available to The Nation by the Special Adviser on Media to the AGF, Dr. Umaru Gwandu.

Gwandu confirmed that the English transcript reflected what Malami said in Hausa.

The AGF said the President was not in office for politicians alone.

He said: “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 has 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.

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“Therefore, the lawmakers are only concerned about their political inclination while the president is concerned about the entire lives of Nigerian made up of politicians and non- politicians.

Read Also: Electoral Bill: APC chieftain cautions Buhari

“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.”

Explaining the cumbersomeness of direct primaries, Malami said:  ”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, INEC requires N305 billion for the 2022 general elections Now, if the general elections 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 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, potable 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 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.”

Fielding questions on ‘Sunday Politics’, a Channels Television programme on Sunday, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, justified Buhari’s decision to decline assent to the amended Electoral Bill.

He said overriding the President’s veto was not the best option opened the lawmakers.

Adesina added: “Under democracy, the legislators have the right to override the President. But is toeing that path the most expedient thing to do now when there are other options open to the lawmakers?”

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