The presidency has cleared the air on why President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the 2018 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.

A statement by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) on Sunday, noted that contrary to reports, “the President is the country’s number one fan of the card reader”.

The presidential spokesman made references to “allegations of opposition politicians, as well as some newspaper editorial opinions creating the impression that President Muhammadu 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”, while insisting 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”.

The statement continued: “It is equally important that this issue was not raised either by the Executive or the Legislature in the recent reviews. Moreover, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) adoption of e-voting reforms is enshrined in the 2015 Amendment Act to the Electoral Reform Act. Card reader is therefore a settled matter.”

Shehu also stated that the issue concerning “some ill-prepared and flawed parts of the bill for which corrections needed to be made to allow for his signature”, would be addressed when the president engages with the parliament “for the corrections to be effected so that, at the end of the day, both arms of government will be happy with the fact that we have a good electoral law in place”.

Reaffirming Buhari’s support for the use of card readers, he stated: “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 fully 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.

“The card reader is not in danger of being discarded. It is a sine qua non for credible elections.”

He went on to “appeal to the National Assembly to reconvene as soon as possible to consider and approve the necessary corrections to the amended electoral act”.

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