- President Buhari's decision to withhold assent to the Electoral Bill 2021 continues to generate reactions
- Nine CSOs including Yiaga Africa, Cleen Foundation, and the International Press Centre have expressed sadness over the development
- The other CSOs include The Albino Foundation, Institute for Media and Society, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Centre for Citizens with Disability and PTCIJ
The CSOs in a statement sent to Legit.ng on Tuesday, December 21 stated that the withholding of assent by the president to a bill undermines public confidence and trust in Nigeria's electoral system.
The statement added:
Full text of Buhari’s letter informing National Assembly of his refusal to sign Electoral Act Amendment Bill
“More disappointing is the fact that the president delayed his response until the effluxion of time required for assenting to legislation until the date that the National Assembly is proceeding for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
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“The president’s decision to withhold assent to the bill will have serious implications for INEC as it prepares for the FCT Area Council election, the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, and ultimately the 2023 general elections.
“The non-conclusion of the electoral amendment process will mean that these elections will be conducted using the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) denying INEC the opportunity to test the efficacy of some of the new innovations introduced in the proposed Electoral Bill 2021.
“This is apart from the delay the commission will have to contend with in the required effort to review its guidelines, regulations, and manuals in accordance with certain provisions of the bill.
“Furthermore, based on the revised timelines for specific electoral activities in the Bill, INEC and other stakeholders will have to grapple with logistical, financial, and programmatic difficulties in the run-up to the 2023 General Election.
“We reckon that this may not bode well for Nigeria’s electoral democracy, hence the clamour for the speedy conclusion of the electoral reform process.”
The CSOs then issued four strong recommendations which are:
1. The National Assembly as a matter of national emergency should either override the President’s decision or remove the contentious clause (s) from the Bill and transmit the Bill back to the President for assent within the next 30 days.
2. The National Assembly should ensure that all clerical, editorial, and cross-referencing gaps in the current Bill are resolved before transference back to the President.
3. The President should expeditiously assent to the revised Bill upon receipt from the National Assembly.
4. Civil society groups, media, and development partners must sustain the effort to protect the will of the people and safeguard the electoral reform process from policy capture and manipulation.
How Kwankwaso predicted that Buhari won't sign Electoral Act amendment bill
Recall that a former Kano state governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, had predicted that President Buhari won't sign the Electoral Act amendment bill.
He said though the direct primary option is better, governors do not want it because it makes them less powerful in the scheme of things.
National Assembly may veto Buhari to sign Electoral Act Amendment Bill
Meanwhile, a recent report by a national newspaper indicates that some members of the National Assembly vowed to veto President Buhari if he declines to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
A senator quoted in the report said that they had met and resolved to overrule Buhari if the president declines to sign the bill.
The president was earlier given 16 days to assent to the electoral bill by some stakeholders in the polity.