Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, has explained why President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) will not sign the new electoral legislation, claiming that it does not represent the interests of all Nigerians.
On Sunday, he announced this during a phone-in program on Radio Kano in response to queries.
He claimed that the new election law has a high cost, is discriminatory, and promotes insecurity, and that signing it into law will simply create a new crisis that will result in legal challenges.
“What you should understand about the 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 the economy, the business community also have rights on him, if you are talking about 60% 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, legislation, politicians and non-politicians. This is because the leadership of the country is not for the politicians alone, it is a leadership that affects the social life of the people, their religion, economy, security and others. This is contrary to the leadership of the legislators which is solely political.
“Therefore, the lawmakers are only concerned about their political inclination while the President is concerned about the entire lives of Nigerians made up of politicians and non-politicians.
“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,” the Minister stated.
He went on to discuss the financial burden contained in the new electoral statute that has yet to be 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 INEC requires N305 billion for the 2023 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 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 roads 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 elections 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.