By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Thursday, called on National Assembly to demonstrate patriotism and boldness in giving Nigerians a new Electoral Act in 2021.
This was part of resolutions reached by leaders of the coalition in a statement made available to Vanguard, which includes Centre for Liberty, Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa, NESSACTION, Raising New Voices, Ready To Lead Africa, and Yiaga Africa.
According to the coalition, the 9th National Assembly under the leadership of President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawal, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, promised Nigerian’s a new Electoral Act by the first quarter of 2021.
The statement reads in part, “The 9th National Assembly under the leadership of the Senate President; Ahmed Lawal and the Speaker of the House of Representatives; Femi Gbajabiamila, promised Nigerian’s a new Electoral Act by the first quarter of 2021.
“Accordingly, the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters invited citizens in December 2020 to make proposals for amendments to the Electoral Act (2010).
“The Public Hearing which had wide participation from citizens, civil society organizations, political parties, professional bodies, security agencies, women-led initiatives, youth and persons with disabilities led groups, saw the collation of citizens recommendations to amend the Electoral Act.
“As the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters meet to deliberate on the Electoral Amendment Bill, we call on the Lawmakers to be bold and courageous in bequeathing to Nigerians an enduring new Electoral Act that will stand the test of time.
“Nigerians have spoken through their memoranda submitted at the public hearing on the proposed electoral amendment bill on December 9, 2020. Nigerians deserve a new Electoral Act that truly strengthens the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free, fair, and credible elections, that improves the quality of elections by ensuring citizens’ participation and transparency in the process, that ensures inclusion of women, youth and persons with disabilities in the electoral process and guarantees electoral integrity.
“We reiterate that Nigerians deserve a process that ensures inclusion and limits the role of money in our process. As such, the recommendation proposing both a limitation on the cost of nomination for political party primaries and proper regulation of the party primary process remains fundamental in this process of electoral reform.
“In addition, the recommendation proposing the deployment of technology in our elections remains vital in promoting transparency in our process and ensuring that votes truly count.
“We, therefore, call on the Joint Committee to ensure that the proposal legalising the electronic accreditation, electronic voting, and electronic transmission of results are adopted.
“It is important to note that introducing electronic collation and transmission of results in our Electoral Act to complement the manual process will ensure transparency, real-time reportage and build citizen confidence in the election results collation process.”
The coalition also expressed optimism that the leadership of NASS would not fail Nigerians, “We believe that the members of the committee will not jeopardise the future of democratic and transparent elections in Nigeria by making decisions that negate democratic principles and the will of the people.
“We encourage the National Assembly to do the right thing as it sits to decide over these amendments. We are very interested in the success of this process and that we have a new Electoral Act to regulate the conduct of the 2021 Anambra and the 2022 Ekiti and Osun state Governorship Elections before the 2023 General Elections.
“As such, we rely on the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure that this goal is achieved.
“We hold the National Assembly to its commitment to release the proposed bill this first quarter of 2021. Posterity will be good to the 9th National Assembly if they give Nigerian’s a new Electoral Act that truly captures the needs of the people and supports democratic development in Nigeria. Nigerians are watching.”