The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA-Africa) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to rise above personal interests and ensure the passage of the electoral amendment bill into law for the success of the 2019 General Elections.
Board Member, Watching The Vote (WTV) Working Group of YIAGA, Ezenwa Nwagwu and Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo made the plea in Abuja at a news conference on Monday.
According to them, the non-conclusion of electoral amendments constitutes a major threat to the credibility of the 2019 elections, thus the executive and the National Assembly must rise above politics and conclude all amendments to the electoral act to safeguard the integrity of the 2019 elections.
“The proposed Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends 42 clauses of the Electoral Act. No 6, 2010. The goal of the electoral amendment as enunciated in the explanatory memorandum to the bill was to; Restrict the qualification of elective office to relevant provisions of the constitution; Recognize the use of Smart Card Readers and other technological devices in elections; Provide for sequence of elections and party primaries.
“The National Assembly however deleted some controversial sections highlighted by the President in the subsequent versions of the bill it transmitted to the President. These sections include Section 25 on sequence of elections and Section 152 on local government elections. The National Assembly also redrafted some clauses of the bill to address concerns expressed by the President.
“The latest rejection of the electoral amendment bill by the President was communicated to the National Assembly on August 30, 2018. This is the third time the President is declining assent to the electoral amendment bill,” a statement from YIAGA said.
While saying that the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2018 bill forwarded by the National Assembly to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent in August 2018 contained only 15 clauses as opposed to 41 clauses in the original version of the bill, they wonder what happened to the remaining 26 clauses.
“We are concerned with the secrecy of the electoral amendment process. More worrisome is the failure of the National Assembly to inform the public on the amendments transmitted to the President for assent, as well as the silence on the part of President when a modified version of the electoral amendment bill omitting key amendments was transmitted to him. This signals a lack of commitment to electoral reform.
“We are also concerned that some proposed amendments in the electoral law have implications for ongoing electoral activities conducted in line with the extant electoral law. This might be a subject of litigation if not properly managed,” they said.
They therefore urged President Buhari to fulfill his promise of promoting electoral reforms by expediously assenting to the electoral amendment bill when transmitted to him by the National Assembly.