Issued: Wednesday, 8th December 2021
Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) is calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign and give assent to the Electoral Bill, 2021 transmitted to him by the National Assembly since 19th November 2021. The Electoral Bill is the product of nearly three years of work by the National Assembly Committees on INEC and Electoral Matters. The Bill went through the entire gamut of legislative process including: call for submission of memoranda, technical review, retreats and deliberations. It also had input from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), civil society organisations and participation by legal draft staff of the Federal Ministry of Justice.
PLAC notes that a few interests including individual Governors or in groups, have raised a specific concern regarding the mode of selection of candidates for elections, as passed by the Committees – which is direct primaries, only. While PLAC concedes that these interests may have their views about the Electoral Bill, we would like to point out that they had the opportunity to make their input during the legislative process, especially at the call for memoranda and the public hearing.
PLAC calls on President Muhammadu Buhari not to detract from the legacy that his assent to the Electoral Bill will confer on his administration and proceed to assent to it. It will be noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has on different occasions committed to improving Nigeria’s electoral system, especially in the light of the fact that he benefitted from improvements made to the electoral system arising from the recommendations of the Chief Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais Electoral Reform Committee.
The new Electoral Bill contains provisions that seek to improve the electoral system, including the process of voting, collation and announcement of results, and generally bringing about significant changes that give confidence to citizens at all levels, including the grassroots, that their votes will count and their participation in governance improved.
It will still be within the President’s prerogative to bring a fresh amendment after assenting to the Bill, to address any areas of concern, as he did with the Petroleum Industry Act that he assented to, only a few months ago.