Gbajabiamila, 2021 budget
Gbajabiamila

.rules out fresh amendments to Electoral Act

…urges aggrieved persons to approach court

…as IPAC reports electoral umpire to NASS on alleged infringements of rights

By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, Wednesday, said it was no longer possible for the government to fund political parties in Nigeria.

According to him, funding political parties will subject them to government control as against democratic ethos and values.

Gbajabiamila added that it will also lead to the proliferation of political parties.

Speaking while receiving a delegation of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) at the National Assembly in Abuja on Wednesday, Gbajabiamila said that people would abuse the process by registering hundreds of political parties with the aim of benefiting from government free money.

He said, “I am not sure how many countries fund their political parties. We will have to do research and to be sure that it’s international best practice.

“Government is an interested party, if it will be providing the funds. That will also mean they can compromise the system.

“There is also proliferation (of parties) that will become a problem if the government begins to fund the parties, since there will be free money”, he said.

Gbajabiamila, who also reacted to requests for fresh amendments to the Electoral Act 2022, said it was not advisable to do so a few months before the 2023 general elections.

He explained that making new amendments to the law at this time could affect the election timetable, create unnecessary tension in the polity and raise credibility questions.

The Speaker said the safest route would be to further amend the Act after the elections if that was necessary, asking aggrieved persons to approach the court to seek an interpretation of any contentious provisions in the alternative.

Gbajabiamila however called for patience, urging parties to seize the opportunity of the upcoming polls to fully test the Act and determine the success of innovations such as electronic transmission of results, the deployment of the BIVAS, among others.

He added that upon a successful poll, other innovations such as electronic collation of results and Diaspora voting could also be considered.

The IPAC delegation led by the body’s National Chairman, Engr. Yabagi Sani, told the Speaker that their mission was to seek synergy and a good working relationship between IPAC and the National Assembly.

Among the issues tabled before Gbajabiamila were the alleged flouting of Section 31 of the Electoral Act by the Independent National Electoral Commission, the funding of political parties, the urgency to establish the Electoral Offences Commission, electronic collation of election results, in addition to the electronic transmission of results, and the call for a change in the process of appointing the chairman of INEC.

The IPAC Chair who cited a scenerio said he complained that while the law allowed political parties to replace candidates 90 days to election, INEC opted to shut its portal when the days had yet to elapse, preferring to use its rules and regulations in determining the fate of the political parties and their candidates.

He said it was incumbent on his organization to report INEC to the national assembly to be called to order.

“A lot of people are being disenfranchised because INEC says we can’t substitute anybody even though the 90 days haven’t elapsed.

“Do the INEC rules and regulations supersede the Electoral Act?”, Sani asked.

He expressed concern that the issue had led to litigations against INEC already, saying that if not resolved quickly, some of the cases could cause a setback to the electoral system in the future.

On electronic collation of results, Sani said while it was commendable that the results would be transmitted electronically, the collation would still be done manually, which he feared might be compromised.

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