Electoral Bill: CSOs calls for immediate retransmission before February

Electoral Bill: CSOs issues January timeline for immediate retransmission

NEWS DIGEST – Following the heated debate over the newly proposed electoral bill yet to be signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, on Monday urged the National Assembly to retransmit the Electoral Act Amendment Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent ahead of 2023 general elections.

Recall that President Buhari in December 2021 declined to accent to the bill and wrote a 19 paragraph note to the National Assembly expressly emphasizing his discomfort over the provision of the ‘direct primary’ stipulation and some drafting and cross-referencing gaps contained in the proposed bill.

As recommended by the CSOs, the National Assembly were urged to be proactive in ensuring that the documents were cleaned up and ready for Presidential accent as further delay to the conclude the Electoral Act amendment process may hinder preparations for Ekiti and Osun off-cycle governorship election and the 2023 general elections.

This recommendation were made by a coalition of CSOs which includes: Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre, Centre for Citizens with Disability, The Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society and Nigerian Women Trust Fund.

Others were Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Partners for Electoral Reform, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations and Inclusive Friends Association.

Proposed law will give Nigeria electoral integrity – Jega

The coalition of CSOs in its position urged that immediate action by the National Assembly will prove pivotal to the next election and failure to do so will raise doubt in the operability of the new legislation and functionality of the new innovations will be lost if the amendment process is not concluded expeditiously.

“The National Assembly should ensure proper scrutiny of the bill to resolve all drafting errors and cross-referencing gaps before re-transmitting the bill for Presidential Assent.

“The President should upon receipt of the re-transmitted bill provide his assent within a week.

“Civil society groups, media, and development partners sustain the effort to safeguard the Electoral Bill from policy capture, manipulation, and subversion of the people’s will.”

As part of the issues raised during the Town Hall Forum organised by YIAGA Africa on Sunday, CSOs issued some key resolutions which includes; “new legal framework is central to the integrity of 2023 General elections and future elections and the advancement of Nigeria’s democracy.

“The Electoral Bill 2021 reflect the wishes of Nigerians and key electoral stakeholders for a legal framework that promotes the use of technology and other innovations to stem electoral manipulation, strengthens INEC’s financial independence, and empowers the Commission to reject falsified election results.

Buhari has no intention to ensure electoral transparency – Rafsanjani

“The National Assembly should remove the contentious clause of direct primaries, resolve all the identified drafting errors and cross-referencing gaps and re-transmit the bill to the President for assent within a week of resumption.

INEC to enjoy power to review elections results – YIAGA

Speaking to our correspondent at the press conference, Program Director Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu said the idea behind the electoral reform process is to give Nigeria a new law that captures provisions that ensure elections are more credible.

She said controversies surrounding a stipulation in the bill that made emphasis on ‘direct primaries’ should not be a problem as they are other stipulations in the proposed new law that are way important than ‘direct primaries’.

Mbamalu told NewsDigest that the newly proposed bill contains a provision that gives INEC the power to review elections results.

“We’ve reduced this conversation to direct and indirect primaries, but it’s a lot more. If you think about early funding for the election? this current proposed bill provides funding for election to the electoral commission at least a year to the election.

“Why is that important, if you think about the conduct of elections, postponement of election that we had in 2019, 2015, even 2011 were attributed to issues around elections operations and logistics management. So when INEC receives the funds early, it gives better time to plan.

“This proposal gives INEC the power to review election results if it is declared under duress or breach of the electoral laws and legal framework.

“It will also reduce the way cases go to court when returning officers either flaunt the law or are forced to declare results, INEC will have a timeline to review these results and ensure that it is announced in line with the electoral act.”