A coalition under the umbrella of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the 2022 Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
Over 70 organizations made the appeal yesterday in a statement in Abuja. It noted that the Bill addressed the concerns of citizens over gaps in the electoral legal framework and voting process.
The Situation Room also called on the President to appoint credible people who will oversee the affairs of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the coming general election draws near.
“Situation Room is reminding President Buhari of the impact a new Electoral Act that reflects current realities will do for democracy and indeed Nigeria.
“The Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 has many remarkable provisions to improve the credibility of our elections.
“One of the successes of the 2015 Nigerian General elections was the acceptance of the outcome of the election as credible despite the major obstacles to the conduct of the elections.
“This is what the citizens want for the 2023 General Elections. The Electoral Act Amendment Bill addresses citizens’ concerns over gaps in the electoral legal framework and voting process.
“The use of technology in elections and electronic transmission of results are expected to eliminate ballot stuffing and snatching, ensure the safety of election officials and voters, and reduce apathy by boosting voters’ confidence in elections.
“The President may recall that several reforms were carried out to improve the electoral process, as reflected in amendments to the Electoral Act 2010 in 2010, 2011, and 2015, from which he and his party benefited.
“Nigerians expect that the gains will be built upon, and this administration will leave a legacy by assenting to the Bill without any further delay, more so that the contentious clause of the mode of party primaries has been addressed.
“This will be in fulfillment of President Buhari’s public commitment to bequeath a credible electoral system to Nigeria.
“A new and signed Electoral Act will consolidate all the reforms carried out by INEC to improve the electoral process especially with the introduction of the Bi-modal Voting Accreditation System (BVAS) in the recently concluded Anambra State Governorship Election”, the group added in the statement that was jointly signed by its Convener, Ene Obi, and co-Conveners, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu.
Speaking on INEC appointments, the group emphasized that Item F, paragraph 14 of the third schedule to the 1999 Constitution, as amended, forbids the appointment of a person of questionable integrity or a member of any political party.
“Situation Room also calls on the President to take a good look at the appointments of electoral umpires (National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners). INEC, as a body and constituted, is prepared to deliver credible elections in Nigeria by introducing new and better technology.
“However, machines cannot operate themselves as they will still be subject to human control. This means that personnel and Commissioners of the Election Management Body must have credibility and integrity as clearly stated in the 3rd Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, which provides for the appointment of National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners.
“Nigerians expect nothing short of what is in the Constitution”, the statement read.
The groups that signed the statement include; 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), Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC).
Others are Justice Development and Peace Commission (JPDC) Nnewi, ASPILOS Foundation, Mac-Jim Foundation, Kimpact Development Initiative, Democratic Action Group (DAG), Women’s Rights to Education Programme, EDO CSOs, Young Innovators and Vocational Training Initiative (YVITI), New Initiative for Social Development (NISD).