February 23, 2022

25 CSOs stage protest, call on Buhari to assent Electoral Bill

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File: President Muhammadu Buhari

…say Buhari’s signing of bill in national interest
… call for NASS’ veto on Buhari
By Gabriel Ewepu and Fortune Eromosele

AS Nigerians anxiously wait for a new Electoral Act ahead of 2023 general elections, 25 Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Tuesday, staged a nationwide protest to demand for immediate assent of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

The 25 CSOs gathered in large numbers at the Unity Fountain in Abuja to let the world know the alleged unwillingness of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the bill.

They were seen in black and red t-shirts wielding different placards bearing inscriptions like, #signtheelctoralbillnow, #signtheelectoralbill, #Buharidon’tbedecivedbypoliticians, #preventelectionrigging, #Buharifulffilyourpromiseofcredibleelections, and chanted solidarity songs.

The CSOs include the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Yiaga Africa, Partners for Electoral Reform (PER), International Press Centre, Institute for Media and Society, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, the Albino Foundation, Centre for Citizens with Disability, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development, Transition Monitoring Group.

Others were, CLEEN Foundation, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) , Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) , Nigeria Network of Non, Governmental Organizations (NNNGO), Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), Enough is Enough, the Electoral Hub, Centre for Liberty, Take Back Nigeria Movement, International, Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre (IPCRC), 100 Women Lobby Group, Women in Politics Forum, Raising New Voices, Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa, and ReadyToLeadAfrica.

They said, “We call on President Buhari to sign the Electoral bill into law on or before the expiration of the 30 days’ timeline on the 1st March 2022 to enable INEC to issue Notice of Election and release the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election.

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“Further amendments to the Electoral Bill 2022 can be proposed after assent has been granted. It is within the President’s prerogative to propose amendments after signing the bill like he did in the case of the Petroleum Industry Bill and 2022 Appropriation bill, an act which attracted commendation.

“The National Assembly should ensure gazetted copies of the Electoral Act 2022 are available to citizens as soon as the bill is signed into law.”

Fielding questions from journalists, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, said that assenting to the electoral bill is at the interest of every Nigerian.

He said, “In preparations for the 2023 elections, we urge the President to assent to the bill. We hope that he assent to the bill soonest. This is for democracy, it is at our national interest. This bill commands the popular will of the Nigerian people and any further delay will undermine the integrity of the 2023 elections.

“If he has promised and this is part of the legacy he wants to leave behind, then we urge him to do so without any further delay so that Nigerians and prepare adequately for the 2023 elections.”

“We would like to give him the benefit of doubt that he won’t fail this time, he has failed five times, we hope this time he doesn’t.”

Also speaking, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Ene Obi, tasked the National Assembly, NASS, to veto Buhari if he fails to assent to the bill.

“All we want to say is that the President should sign the boll, we are not here to speak so many english, so that we can move forward. If not, the National Assembly should veto him,” she stated.