ON Friday, February 25, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari performed a duty that went down very well with most well-meaning Nigerians: he signed (at last!) the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 into law.
Given the tortuous journey the crucial piece of legislation went through, it was a memorable historic moment.
With the stroke of his pen, the President signed into law, an electoral legislation which, among other things, will ensure we cut off many forms of human interference that have always resulted in stolen elections in Nigeria.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which has stoutly fronted the technological reforms of our electoral process, now has legal backing to transmit results from the polling units to its national portal where all Nigerians view it live.
If faithfully implemented, it meanswe may have seen the last of the sort of thing that happened in a recent bye- election in Imo State where INEC officials were abducted along with electoral materials.
There should be no more need for ballot box snatching, falsification of results and the use of military, police, other security personnel and armed political thugs to alter election results at the collation centres.
In other words, the notion that the collation centre is the “real” place where elections are “won and lost” should be a thing of the past because the public will know results in real time.
With this landmark achievement, post-election litigation will be brought to manageable levels.
Hopefully, our increasingly technologically-driven elections will eventually be stripped of its primitive and violent attributes.
With more technological advancements, people will be able to vote from their homes and the media will be able to announce results as they come in.
We give President Buhari a pat on the back for signing this amendment into law, though we believe this should have been done well before now. As he basks in the glow of this achievement, we will never forget the fact that he did not lead from the front to sanitise our electoral law.
Some claim he was pushed to do it, but we should also know he could have maintained his veto if he wanted to do so.
Had Buhari been proactive enough, this Bill should have been signed in 2018 or even earlier.
The Bill went to his table a record six times and cost the nation needlessly. We call on him to make up for lost time by shunning undue partisanship and supporting the INEC to give Nigerians free, fair, credible and violence-free elections henceforth.
Buhari should cast aside any perceived partisan toga, while donning the statesman’s garb as we approach 2023.
A free, fair and credible general election in 2023 will diminish his erstwhile shortcomings and define his democratic legacy.