Following the rejection of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari barely 13 months to the 2023 general elections, a leading Civil Society Organisation, Yiaga Africa has convened a meeting that will stir up conversation for the consideration, passage and the signing of the bill.
To this end, stakeholders are converging on Transcorp Hilton Abuja Sunday, January 16th to discuss how the country can get an effective electoral legal framework ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The Citizens’ Townhall on Electoral Bill 2021, organised by Yiaga Africa, is coming 13 months to the 2023 general elections.
“Nigerians still await an electoral law that will make all votes count,” Executive Director Yiaga Africa Samson Itodo said while speaking on the programme.
He said while Nigerians wait on the National Assembly to repackage the bill and send back to Buhari, or override the President’s veto, Itodo insisted that the Citizens Town Hall on the Electoral Bill 2021 is aimed at providing solution haven identify some errors in 11 chapters of the electoral bill.
While Nigerians were expecting President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the electoral act amendment bill into law or communicate to the National Assembly before or on 19 November, 2021, which is the stipulated time by law for the president to act, there was no communication until 21 December, 2021 when the Senate officially received and read the President’s communication rejecting the electoral bill.
Buhari’s letter which was read on the floor of the Senate on 21 December, 2021 dated 13 December, 2021. This raised questions on the sincerity of both the executive and the legislature on the new electoral legal framework many said will help the country’s electoral process and credibility.
Buhari in his letter to the National Assembly rejecting the electoral act amendment bill, raised concern majorly on the direct primary to be conducted by political parties, insisting it will limit right of choices, make the electoral process expensive, increase violence and insecurity, but declined comment on several errors observed in the bill for the battle ahead.
Recall that in August 2018, President Buhari declined assent to the 2018 Electoral (Amendment) Bill presented to him by the 8th Assembly on the ground that there were errors and cross-referencing gaps in the bill including the time it was presented to him to sign, which he said was too close to the 2019 general elections.
Elanza News gathered that the same game is playing out with the full support of some elements within the government who done want the 2021 electoral act amendment bill to see the light of the day.
While the executive is quiet on the errors found in the bill for the battle ahead, and incase the National Assembly didn’t abandoned the proposed electoral legal framework, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have identified errors in 11 sections of the bill, similar to what happened in 2018.
The CSOs that identify the errors in the 11 sections of the 2021 electoral act amendment bill includes: Yiaga Africa; International Press Centre (IPC); Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD); The Albino Foundation; CLEEN Foundation; Institute for Media and Society (IMS) and Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF).
Others are: Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ); Partners for Electoral Reform (PER); Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC); Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and Nigerian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NNNGO).
The CSO who are insisting the National Assembly should correct the errors and send the bill back to Buhari for his assent, said the entire process should be done so that the new electoral legal framework can be tested in the FCT Area Council elections, Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections before the 2023 general elections.
Speaking at a press conference on behalf of the CSOs, the Executive Director, Yiaga Africa Samson Itodo, said they undertook an in-depth and comprehensive review of the bill to ensure all editorial, drafting and cross-referencing gaps are addressed but found out errors in 11 sections of the bill.
He said the review identified drafting errors, repetition and cross-referencing gaps in eleven sections of the bill.
“Cross-referencing errors were identified in five sections of the bill, grammatical errors in two sections, duplicate provisions in three sections and conflicting provisions, ” he said.
Elanza News gathered that it is on this note Yiaga Africa is convening the tomorrow’s town hall.