Updated: March 4, 2021
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday rejected the electoral reform bill that had been passed by parliament to fight rigging with electronic devices and limit campaign funding.
In refusing to sign off on plans to overhaul the country’s electoral laws, Mr Buhari claimed that new rules just months to an election would cause “disruption and confusion”.
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The new bill makes compulsory the use of electronic voter card readers meant to make it harder to rig election results.
Under the current legislation, card readers that scan fingerprints and other personal data are optional.
Also included in the bill is limits on election campaign funding and the cost of nomination forms for political candidates.
Mr Buhari is seeking re-election in February, but many of his former allies have abandoned him, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He is facing many candidates in the February polls, but his main contender is Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President between 1999 and 2007.
Nigerians go to the polls to elect a new president and parliament on February 16. Governorship and state house of assembly elections will be held two weeks later.
Parliament has passed the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 and has been awaiting presidential assent in the hope it would be introduced before polling day.
But Buhari said: “Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.”
Amendments should come into effect after the 2019 general elections, he told the speaker of the lower House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, in a letter.