Presidency on Sunday denied an allegation that President Muhammadu Buhari refused to assent to Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 because of his opposition to e-voting and the use of card reader in the forthcoming 2019 elections.
It said contrary to the allegation, which it credited to “opposition politicians, as well as some newspaper editorial and opinions”, Buhari “is a fan of the card reader.”
Refuting the allegation in a statement, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said the card reader “is a sine qua non for credible elections” and “is not in danger of being discarded.”
In the statement titled, ‘President Buhari loves card reader, determined to entrench use, nationwide’, Shehu said the issue of e-voting and card reader was not raised either by the executive or the legislature in the recent reviews of the bill.
Insisting that Independent National Electoral Commission’s adoption of e-voting reforms was already settled in 2015 Amendment Act to the Electoral Act, he added that the issue of e-voting and the use of card readers was never an issue for the President’s decision to decline assent to the bill.
He stated, “The Presidency rejects allegations of opposition politicians, as well as some newspaper editorial and opinions creating the impression that Mr Buhari is against e-voting, the use of card readers in the upcoming elections, hence his decision to decline assent, for the third time, to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018.
“We wish to state in clear and unambiguous terms that the issue of e-voting and use of card readers was never an issue for the President’s decision to decline assent to the bill.
“It is equally important that this issue was not raised either by the Executive or the Legislature in the recent reviews. Moreover, INEC’s adoption of e-voting reforms is enshrined in the 2015 Amendment Act to the Electoral Reform Act. The card reader is, therefore, a settled matter.
“The President’s recent decision to decline assent to the bill has no effect whatsoever on INEC’s use of card readers.
“Regrettably, purveyors of ‘fake news’ have been quick to churn out sensational headlines such as that of a leading newspaper, which screamed: ‘Card Reader in Jeopardy, Buhari Rejects Electoral Act Amendment Bill Again’.”
Appealing to National Assembly to reconvene as soon as possible to consider and approve the necessary corrections to the amended Electoral Act, Presidency insisted that Buhari was not in confrontation with the parliament on the issue.
He said, “The President is not in confrontation with the parliament on this issue. He has asked his officials to engage in a dialogue with the legislature for the corrections to be effected.
“As for his alleged rejection of the card reader, nothing can be farther from the truth.
“The President is the country’s number-one fan of the card reader.
“For a candidate who ran three times and “lost” in an electoral environment in which votes were allocated and losers asked to go to court if they felt unhappy, the President knows well the role that the card reader played in his emergence in 2015.
“He has said times without number that he would strengthen and widen its application in the country and this he is determined to do.
“Accordingly, we would like to appeal, especially to the media to disregard baseless allegations against the President, even as he puts in his best efforts in working with the National Assembly to give the nation a good electoral law, and in time.
“Card reader is not in danger of being discarded. It is a sine qua non for credible elections.
“We appeal to the National Assembly to reconvene as soon as possible to consider and approve the necessary corrections to the amended Electoral Act.”