The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, has said that whether or not the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), assents to the electoral amendment bill, his reputation as a leader who bequeathed a “clean” electoral system to Nigeria remains.
This is as he affirmed that the President was consulting widely before deciding on the bill.
Adesina said this on Monday evening during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
Asked if there would likely be a repeat of the 2019 scenario where the President refused to sign the electoral amendment bill shortly before the general election, Adesina said the reasons behind the President’s action were for the good of Nigeria’s democratic process. He also said that back in 2019, there was not enough time for the President to deliberate in making his decisions.
“You know, the reason adduced for not signing the previous one was because of the short time between the time it was brought and the time to the elections.
“There was a minimum time within which it should be brought. This bill has been brought in good time. And all I will say is that, as long as it will serve our democracy well, the President will do the needful,” he said.
According to Adesina, the same set of people who pressured the President to sign the bill in 2019 are the same people piling the pressure today.
“It could be because they had some sinister motives; some hidden hostile things in the previous bill which would have served their purpose. That one was not signed for legitimate reasons. For this one, there is enough time,” he explained.
When questioned whether the President not assenting to the bill would in any way dent his image in terms of democratic values, Adesina said, “In terms of the President’s image or democratic value, that image is made already. It is almost cast in concrete.
“You will find that one election after the other has been better under President Buhari. Under Buhari, the governing party has lost states, legislative seats and so many elections. It was not like that before. It used to be that the governing party won all the elections by hook or by crook. But not under President Buhari.”
“So, his reputation as someone who wants to leave a clean electoral system for Nigerians has already been made. Whether the electoral bill is signed or not does not detract from that reputation,” he said.
On the progress of the bill, the presidential spokesman said, “What I can tell Nigerians is that the President is consulting widely and he will do what is best for the country. He has to consult with all stakeholders to arrive at a position that is best for Nigerians.
“That consultation is going on. Part of that consultation was the communication with INEC and other stakeholders that have also been reached for counsel. At the end of the day, the President is going to aggregate all of it and what’s best for the country is what he will do. We cannot preempt him. He will do it within the appropriate time.”
Quizzed about who the President was consulting with, Adesina declined comments saying that such details were not in the public domain. He however confirmed that the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, was fully involved in the process.
“There are certain things that never get done without the involvement of the Attorney General. You can be sure of that. And this bill falls within the purview of the AGF,” he said.