By Gabriel Ewepu

AS political activities gradually gather momentum ahead of 2023 general elections, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, under the auspices of Civil Society Partners on Electoral Reform, Sunday, asserted that State Governors cannot dictate to President Muhammadu Buhari over signing of Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.

This was the position by the CSOs as contained in a statement signed by the Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, and endorsed by Centre for Liberty; Raising New Voices; Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative, YSAD; NESSACTION; The Nigerian Alliance; and The Art and Civics Table and Speak Out Africa Initiative.

According to the statement, the position of some governors on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is “unpopular and narrow,” as they lack powers to dictate to Buhari to ignore public interest on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
The statement also pointed that according to the constitution, the President cannot dictate to the governors on what they do with bills passed in their states, so also it is the President’s prerogative to sign the Electoral Bill Amendment Bill into law based on national interest and demand.

The statement reads in part, “The position of some of our governors on the new electoral act amendment bill is unpopular and narrow, and it conflicts with the public interest of Nigerians.

“Our governors should not serve as obstacles or constitute an impediment to the signing of the new electoral bill because it has substantially met the expectations of Nigerians.

“It is the prerogative of Mr President to sign the bill and make history, and it is not in the public interest for the governors to ask him not to sign it.

“The President has a glorious opportunity to take a popular action, etch his name in gold and side with the people by signing the bill into law.

“The President does not dictate to the governors when they sign bills into law at the state level; they should therefore not push him to do what will bring him into public opprobrium and create disenchantment for the electoral process.”

The statement also urged the governors to consider the popular will of Nigerians on the Electoral Bill, rather concentrate on rebuilding their parties, ensuring internal party reforms, embark on digitisation of membership registration and dues payments.

“We are also concerned that the real motive behind this resistance from some governors may not be the issue of a single mode of primary retained in the bill, but an opportunity to kill the entire legislation over the fear of losing elections.

“Since INEC has shown the determination to conduct credible elections with technology addition, some politicians may not be comfortable with electronic aided transparency”, it pointed.

The statement also added that, “The time has come for the governors and their political parties to embark on internal party reforms, digitise membership registration and dues payment systems, conduct transparent primaries and ensure there is accountability in the working and management of their internal affairs.

“We urge the governors and the parties to put in place sound, and credible mechanism for conducting direct primaries in Ekiti and Osun, after which we can do a review whether an amendment will be required.

“It is our considered opinion that as the only alternative, the political parties can make the direct system work, and it could help to eliminate corruption and strong middlemen.”

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