A coalition of Civil Society Organisations has asked the President, Major General, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to as matter of urgency assent to the Electoral Act Amended Bill.
The coalition said any further delay on making the bill become law would hamper preparations for the 2023 general elections.
Speaking during a protest in Abuja on Tuesday, the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, said the President must assent to the bill before the end of the day to avoid legal consequences regarding its usage for the 2023 polls.
He added that if the President had issues with any provision in the electoral bill, he could forward a proposed amendment to those clauses.
Itodo stated, “We are mindful of the implication of Clause 28 (I) of the Electoral Bill, 2022, which provides that INEC will issue notice of election in 360 days to the 2023 elections to avert legal complications. We urge the President to assent to the bill.
“We hope he does that today (Tuesday). This is in the best interest of our democracy as any further delay will undermine the process of the 2023 elections. If he wants to leave a better legacy behind, we urge him to do so for Nigerians, the CSOs and INEC to prepare adequately. We will like to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“He has failed five times. If he has any issue with any provision in the electoral bill, he should forward a proposed amendment to those clauses like he has done for the Petroleum Industry Act and 2022 Appropriation Bill.”
The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, said the National Assembly would be held culpable should the delay on the bill affect preparations for the 2023 elections.
She said this could be likened to a conspiracy to frustrate the bill.
Obi stated, “He (Buhari) has declined assent to the bill five times. We are calling on him as the father of the nation to sign the bill.
“We don’t know where the problem is, because each time the bill is returned to the National Assembly; they add another clause before it goes to the President.
“Is this a conspiracy against Nigerians or an attempt to rig the 2023 elections? But we acknowledged the speedy way in which the National Assembly passed this bill in 2022. We are urging the President to sign the bill. If he doesn’t sign, we call on the National Assembly to override him.”
The Executive Director, The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, said Nigerians were tired of electoral fraud and manipulation, which the current law allows.
He added that even after the President’s assent, the coalition would leave no stone unturned to ensure that it was obeyed to the letter.
Auwal stated, “There is the absence of electoral integrity in the current bill and Nigerians want inclusion.
“Mr President should as a matter of urgency and with all patriotism sign this bill into law. Delay is dangerous. It will not stop here after signing, we will ensure it is followed to the letter and ensure that we have transparent elections.”
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