- Nigerian civil society groups have not gotten tired of calling on the National Assembly to sign the electoral amendment bill
- Calls for the quick passage and enactment of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill have been very intense in the last few weeks
- Political analysts say it is important the bill is passed before the next cycle of elections in the country
Fourteen (14) Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the National Assembly to immediately pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
The CSOs made the call on Tuesday, April 27 during a press conference attended by Legit.ng which was held at the entrance of the National Assembly.
Recall that the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, in December 2020, promised Nigerians a new Electoral Act by March 2021.
Reading from a prepared text, leaders of the various groups stated that:
“Elections remain the fulcrum and constant cardinal feature in a democracy. It is important to protect all conditions and instruments required to conduct free, fair and credible elections to ensure that “the sovereign will of the people” prevail always.
“The seeming lack of progress in the National Assembly on the Electoral Act Amendment bill is therefore worrisome.
“Nigerians demand that their elected representatives respond to the urgent need for an electoral legal framework that genuinely strengthens the electoral processes and procedures, promotes inclusivity and addresses impunity.”
Responding to a question on how they intend to get the National Assembly to sign the bill into law, Mr Jake Epelle, founder and chief executive officer of The Albino Foundation said:
“We are very optimistic. We'll use soft power to put pressure on the people in power. Our demands are genuine and genuine demands will always have their way.”
He also urged the media to echo their voice in making the demands, stressing that the reforms of the electoral act are inclusive of persons with disability.
On his part, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, the Executive Director of Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa said:
“The National Assembly must recognise that passing the Electoral Bill in good time will engender expeditious action by the executive.
“We don't want a law that only protects politicians. We have seen that these politicians are only focused on reforms that are in their own interests.”
Other CSOs who were represented at the press briefing include the Centre for Citizens with Disability, Centre for Democracy and Development, CLEEN Foundation, Inclusive Friends Association, Institute for Media and Society, International Press Centre and Kimpact Development Initiative.
Others are Yiaga Africa, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies and Nigeria Women’s Trust Fund.
Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state has said the amendment of the Electoral Act by the National Assembly would be a mere charade if a card reader was not to be used to determine the validity of every vote cast.
According to him, most National Assembly members were often preoccupied about the next election, adding that they tend to skew the electoral amendment act to benefit their interest and that of their political party.
Recall that Yiaga Africa, last year, urged the National Assembly to address the mounting voter apathy in Nigeria's recent elections.
The group specifically asked the federal legislature to take advantage of the ongoing constitution and electoral reform to address the issue ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Samson Itodo, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, made the statement while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a roundtable event organised by the organisation in March 2020.