By Ben Agande, Inalegwu Shuaibu, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Gbenga Akanmu
ABUJA—CHAIRMAN of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze, said, yesterday, that the process of amendments of the constitution and the Electoral Act to accommodate the request of the Independent National Electoral Commission for an extension of time for the elections would be concluded within one month.
Ayogu who was addressing National Assembly correspondents, said all relevant stakeholders, including governors, speakers of state houses of assemblies as well as members of the National Assembly met Tuesday night and agreed on the need to fast track the amendment process.
He said the National Assembly had already started the framework to ensure that everybody was brought on board because the situation was almost like a national emergency.
He said: “We are attacking it like an emergency. That is why the President pulled in the governors, the Speakers, the leadership of the National Assembly and members of the relevant Committees. There was a dialogue on that last night and the whole idea is that whatever emerges from here let it get the same speedy treatment that we are going to give it here.
The process is already beginning and we assure you that it won’t last more than a week or two in the National Assembly. And we are ready to play out the ball, and we hope that the State Assemblies will do their part and return it. Luckily we do not need to start calling stakeholders any more because the stakeholders have met even before this decision was arrived at.
The stakeholders have also met with Mr. President, it is going to be easy and we believe that this will be done expeditiously.”
Senator Ayogu reiterated that the new process was not going to be another alteration, but the Second Alteration Act, adding: “We are doing it because we represent the people of Nigeria and there seems to us that there is unanimity of opinion that we need a process that will produce election that will be less contentious, that will produce credible voters register which is the foundation for a credible and free and fair elections.
“And that is why we are obliging INEC, saying that whatever we need to do we will do it. When they came with the request for money, we broke our holiday and we said whatever Nigerians want, the commonwealth belong to Nigerians and they have decided that one single most important item in the political diet of Nigerians today is to produce a credible voters register.
“The INEC chairman has assured us that he is going to abide by the procurement act and follow all the financial regulations. We don’t have a position to question him except through oversight after the contracts have been signed and awarded and we go in and find out whether the process has really been transparent.
So we believe that the National Assembly has done its job, and we have been very responsive to the needs of our people. We are not angry that we are being criticised, we are elected to be told what to do and these criticisms are inputs to what we do here.”
Elections date, no consensus yet
Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly said there was no consensus yet as to when the 2011 general election would hold, as the meeting President Goodluck Jonathan, state governors, conference of Speakers and members of the National Assembly could not agree on a fixed date for the election .
Ikuforiji told newsmen, Tuesday night, that though they were summoned to Abuja to deliberate on the postponement of the elections, there was a sharp disagreement as to when the elections should hold .
He said that some governors were disposed to the elections holding in April, but many kicked against that because it would not give room for filing of petitions at the tribunals and conducting re-run elections, if there was the need for it .
Ikuforiji noted that a suggestion was made by the governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, that issues that pertain to timing of elections should be expunged from the constitution, so that, amendment should not be sought every time there would be elections.