By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
With some state governors bickering over some sections of the much-awaited Electoral Act Amendment Bill, a top official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and select members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to give his Assent to the Bill without further delay.
Speaking on Channels Television special programme “Elections Town Hall” anchored by Political Reporter Seun Okinbaloye during the week, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye has urged President Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law to enable the Commission settle down for work.
Specifically, Okoye said that the earlier the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is signed into law, the better for Nigeria and the electoral processes, adding that the Commission wants to get to work using the newly amended Electoral Law to conduct upcoming elections.
Said he: “the Commission will be happy if Mr. President goes ahead to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law. This will allow INEC to prepare for the upcoming elections including two by-elections; two off season Governorship Elections in Osun and Ekiti states and the 2023 General Elections respectively”.
The INEC Commissioner also allayed the fears that the Commission may not be able to supervise the Direct Primary elections by political parties, saying that INEC has the capacity to handle it.
Okoye also posited that the Commission will continue to deepen the nation’s democracy by employing the use of technology to conduct elections in Nigeria, pointing out that the introduction of the Bimodal Voting Accreditation System (BVAS) machines ensured that the just concluded Anambra state Governorship Election is acknowledged as a marked improvement in the conduct of elections in the country.
Meanwhile, members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSO) who were on ground during the November 6, 2021 Anambra State Governorship Election have also urged President Buhari to as a matter of urgency Assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill sent to him by the National Assembly.
Ms. Ene Obi, Convener, Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room argued that it will be to the best interest of Nigeria democracy for President Buhari to quickly sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.
This view was supported by veteran human rights activist, Dr. Clement Nwankwo, the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) who asked the President to do the needful.
Also, former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka is optimistic Nigeria’s electoral processes will improve if the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is signed into law, arguing that the signing of the Bill will be good for the country.
Said he: “INEC has demonstrated the capacity to organise a free, fair and credible elections as can be seen in the just concluded Anambra state Governorship Election. The world can see that INEC has a server and it is my view that if President Buhari signs the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law, INEC can no longer deny that it has no server”.