Situation Room Calls on Buhari to Assent to Electoral Act Amendment Bill

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The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 transmitted to him by the National Assembly without delay.

In a statement jointly signed by the Convener, Ene Obi, and Co-conveners, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochuckwu in Abuja on Thursday, the Situation Room reminded 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. The National Assembly realising the utmost importance to the electoral process, incorporated President Buhari’s suggestions and swiftly transmitted back for assent within two (2) weeks of resumption for legislative duties in 2022 after the amendment process was rejected for the fourth time in December 2021.

“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 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 mode of party primaries has been addressed. This will be in fulfilment of President Buhari’s public commitment to bequeath a credible electoral system to Nigeria,” the statement read in part.

Situation Room stated that 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.

Situation Room also called 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 a new and better technology. However, machines cannot operate themselves as they will still be subject to human control. These 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. Item F, paragraph 14 of the third schedule to the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

“Nigerians expect nothing short of what is in the Constitution. Situation Room therefore calls on the President to leave indelible improvements to the electoral process by appointing credible people to oversee the affairs of INEC and to assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 without further delay to enable an environment for fair, inclusive and credible elections in Nigeria as we head towards the 2023 General Elections.”

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