SITUATION ROOM CALLS ON PRESIDENT BUHARI TO ASSENT TO ELECTORAL ACT AMENDMENT BILL 2021

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SITUATION ROOM CALLS ON PRESIDENT BUHARI TO ASSENT TO ELECTORAL ACT AMENDMENT BILL 2021

Issued in Abuja at 9:30am: Friday, 17th December 2021

 

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room is concerned that since the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 and the onward transmission to the President, the bill has not been assented to by the President.

 

Electoral reforms in Nigeria have been implemented mainly through the review of the Electoral Act. The Act has undergone many changes since return to democracy. The current 2010 Electoral Act has been amended three times (in 2010, 2011 and 2015). A fourth amendment attempt in the Ninth Assembly failed just before the 2019 elections.

 

Situation Room notes that in 2018 President Muhammadu Buhari sent back the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on three occasions. In March 2018, he rejected the bill that it will usurp INECs powers on electoral matters. In September 2018, he rejected the bill that some clauses needed adjustments and mechanical revision. In December 2018, he rejected the bill on the account that it was too close to the 2019 General Election. Nigerians were left with the Electoral Act 2015 to conduct the 2019 General Elections. Now this current National Assembly (Ninth Assembly) re-opened conversations on the reform of the Electoral Act ending up with a total repeal and re-enactment after putting in a lot of work to achieve this.

 

The bill has provisions that will address gaps in the current law on use of technology; electronic voting; collation and transmission of results; cost of campaigns; process for party primaries and nomination of candidates; and many others. Since the beginning of the amendment process, Nigerians have been very involved and expressed expectations for an Electoral Act 2021, that will endure personal and partisan considerations and work for all Nigerians by creating an atmosphere for free, fair and credible elections. It is unfair that with all the input and recommendations made by stakeholders, calls are being made to decline assent.

 

A key concern for us, are the calls by some Nigerian Governors regarding direct primaries in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. Situation Room notes that these calls have asked the President to decline assent to bill that is set to become one of the most significant pieces of legislation made by the Ninth Assembly because of the provision on direct primaries.

 

With several of the progressive amendments in the bill that will impart positively in our elections and contribute to deepening democracy in Nigeria, it will be a great disservice to the country if the bill is not assented to in time for the 2023 General Elections. We urge the president to sign the bill into law without delay and it will still be within his prerogative to bring fresh amendments after signing the bill like he did with the Petroleum Industry Bill which he was highly commended for. In the instance that the President fails to sign, we also wish to remind the National Assembly of their right as the legislature to veto same and pass it into law.

 

 

SIGNED:

Ene Obi

Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

 

Asma’u Joda

Co-Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

 

James Ugochukwu

Co-Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

 

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About the Situation Room:

The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria numbering more than seventy. The Steering Committee is made up of: Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), African Centre for Entrepreneurship and Information Development (ACEIDEV), Justice Development and Peace Commission (JPDC) Nnewi, ASPILOS Foundation, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mac-Jim Foundation, Kimpact Development Initiative, Democratic Action Group (DAG), Women’s




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