- If the federal government fails to assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill, the conduct of the 2023 elections will be adversely affected
- Such was the fear of INEC's national commissioner, Festus Okoye, when he spoke in an interview on Thursday, January 13
- Okoye said INEC needs the new electoral laws in place 12 to 18 months before the 2023 general elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed fear that the delay of the executive arm of the federal government to assent to the Electoral Act (2010) amendment bill may affect the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
INEC's national commissioner and chairman, information and voter education committee, Festus Okoye, in an interview with Punch on Thursday, January 13, said though the commission operates based on the existing legal regime, it was pertinent to have the laws that will structure the election.
Okoye stated that these laws should be in place not later than 12 to 18 months before the exercise.
The INEC national commissioner insisted that the commission does not and cannot operate with speculations and deductions, hence the need for the president to assent to the bill.
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“The commission operates on the basis of the existing legal regime. The commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections based on the extant and existing constitutional and electoral legal framework.
“The commission does not operate on the basis of speculation and deductions. Yes, the commission is aware of the pendency of a bill to amend the existing legal regime. That bill is still inchoate and does not become law until it is signed by the President and or the National Assembly determines otherwise."
Okoye said INEC is hoping that issues surrounding the proposed bill will be resolved before the stipulated time.
Electoral Act Amendment: Buhari returns bill to National Assembly, gives reasons
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari had returned the controversial Electoral Act Amendment Bill to the National Assembly.
In a letter sent to the lawmakers, the president asked that the National Assembly expunge the clause that had to do with director primaries from the amendment bill.
The president urged the lawmakers to expunge that aspect from the bill and return to him for assent.