Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has said President Muhammadu Buhari’s complaint that Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 will disenfranchise serving political office holders is selfish and not altruistic.
The governor said if President Buhari truly believes in transparent election and that everybody should have a level playing ground, he will not be suggesting the amendment of the section which he claims will disenfranchise serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at conventions or congresses of any political party.
Governor Wike stated this in Port Harcourt on Friday while reacting to President Buhari’s assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
He noted that the President’s complaint that Section 84 (12) is ultra vires with the 1999 Constitution as amended, is neither here nor there.
“Mr. President has told the world he is trying to protect some of his appointees who want to run the election, and who are afraid of leaving office knowing fully well that having left the office it would be difficult for them to assert or to influence the outcome of party primaries.
“If Mr. President really believes in a free, fair, and transparent election, and for everybody to have a level playing ground, Mr. President will not call for such amendment.”
Governor Wike observed that President Buhari was not willing to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law, but had to succumb to pressure mounted on him by Nigerians. According to him, if the President had declined assent on the bill, the National Assembly would have been embarrassed and lost public confidence.
“For whatever it is worth, let us say Nigerians are happy that after all said and done, the President and the APC administration for the first time have bowed to the pressure of Nigerians in order to have a law that enables our electoral process to be transparent. But again, this tells you the kind of party in power.”
The Rivers State governor stated that the emotions and tensions created in the polity by President Buhari’s delay to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill were unnecessary, particularly when Nigerians and those whom he claimed would be disenfranchised have not complained about provisions of the Bill.
Governor Wike said President Buhari should allow ministers, commissioners, special advisers who feel the provision of the Electoral Act will adversely affect them to proceed to court and challenge it.
“Mr. President knows the function of the legislature is to make laws. The function of the executive is to implement the law, and the function of the judiciary is to interpret the law. Now Mr. President is not only doing the work of the executive, but he has also delved into the work of the judiciary of interpreting the law, knowing where there is conflict. I wonder why Mr. President didn’t know when he appended his signature to the Police Trust Fund, that was in conflict with the provision of the Constitution.”
Governor Wike said one remarkable feature of the Electoral Act is that it will reduce the involvement of security agencies in the hijacking of ballot boxes and results.
He said the new law will also make public officers seeking re-election be on their toes because their political fate will be solely determined by the electorate based on their performances.
Governor Wike commended the National Assembly for granting Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC the power to transmit election results electronically and reject results that are issued under duress.”
“Electronic transmission of results will give confidence to the people, to the electorate and anybody who is elected will now sit up to say it is not going to be business as usual.”