The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of CSOs, on Friday in Abuja urged President Muhamadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 into law as an end of the year gift to Nigerians.
The coalition made the appeal at a news conference addressed by Ms Ene Obi, the Convener of the group, on behalf of other co-conveners.
According to Obi, the Bill has provisions that will address gaps in the current law on use of technology, electronic voting, collation and transmission of election results.
She said that it would also address the cost of campaigns, process for party primaries and many other critical issues in the electoral process.
Obi said the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room was concerned that Buhari was yet to sign the Bill into law long after it was passed by the National Assembly.
Obi said the current 2010 Electoral Act had been amended three times – 2010, 2011 and 2015, adding that a fourth attempt by the 8th National Assembly failed before the 2019 elections.
“In March 2018, Buhari rejected the Bill on the grounds that it will usurp INEC’s powers on electoral matters.”
“similarly in September 2018, he rejected the Bill on the ground 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 elections. Nigerians were left with the Electoral Act 2015 to conduct the 2019 general elections.”
“Now this current National Assembly re-opened conversations on the reform of the Act ending up with a total repeal and re-enactment after putting in a lot of work to achieve this,” she said.
Obi said Nigerians had expected a new Electoral Act in 2021 that would create the atmosphere for free, fair and credible elections.
“There have been several progressive amendments to the Bill that will impact 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 further delay”, she said.