By Our Reporter
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Civil Society Organisations, (CSOs), have again on Tuesday, urged the National Assembly to speed up the process of the electoral act amendment bill now before the June 12, 2021, celebration.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by leaders of the CSOs including Albino Foundation; Centre for Centre For Citizens with Disability (CCD) Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), CLEEN Foundation, Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), Institute for Media and Society (IMS), International Press Centre (IPC), Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI), National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Nigeria Women’s Trust Fund (NWTF), Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA), Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ, and Yiaga Africa.
The director programmes YIAGA Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu who spoke for the group, said the passage of the bill will rekindle the hope of Nigerians in the democratic process.
She said that the urgent need for reforming the Electoral Legal Framework is founded on the broad-based consensus by Nigerian citizens’ and electoral stakeholders on the need for a more credible and improved electoral process. A process that will encourage active citizens’ participation and guarantee their rights in electing leaders and representatives that will provide good governance by addressing gaps in the current electoral legal framework. The Senate President at the time promised Nigerians a new Electoral Act by March 2021.
That timeline has come and gone!!!
According to her, the Ninth National Assembly, under the leadership of the Senate President, Ahmed Lawal and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, promised Nigerians a people-responsive Electoral Act by the first quarter of 2021.
“We are now in the second quarter of 2021 and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is yet to be presented for third and final reading in both chambers of the National Assembly. This process is required before the Bill can be transmitted to the President for his assent,” she added.
“In considering the Bill, NASS must undertake an in-depth consideration of the citizens’ priority issues to address identified gaps in the current electoral legal framework.
“The Ninth Assembly has an obligation to work expeditiously on passing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 and pass same to the President for assent.
“This is an urgent national priority. Together with Nigerians, we firmly believe that if the current electoral legal framework is not reviewed and reformed, it will have negative impact and consequences for democratic consolidation,” she added.
She further stated that the NASS must recognise that passing the Electoral Bill in good time will engender expeditious action by the executive. The speedy enactment of the Bill will give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the legal clarity to adequately plan and efficiently conduct future elections, particularly the Anambra governorship election scheduled for 6 November 2021.
Consequently, we join our voices with millions of Nigerians to call on the National Assembly to speed up the process for the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. In the same vein, we call on the President to speedily assent to the bill and deliver a brand-new Electoral Act 2021 to Nigerians ahead of the 2021 democracy day celebration on 12 June 2021.
We commend the contributions and resilience of Nigerians, the Civil Society, political actors, development partners and other relevant stakeholders in their relentless pursuit for an Electoral Act that engenders participation, inclusiveness, transparency and credibility of the electoral process.