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General News of Friday, 3 December 2021


Why Buhari should 'quickly' approve 2021 Electoral Bill - CSOs

Civil society group members Civil society group members

A coalition of civil society groups has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the Electoral Bill 2021 in time for a smooth democratic process.

The bill, transmitted to the president about two weeks ago by the National Assembly, has pitched the lawmakers against governors based on a controversial clause.

Clause 87 in the bill seeks to make direct primaries compulsory for the nomination of candidates by all political parties. Lawmakers are believed to have approved that clause so as to take away the leverage that state governors have in determining who the candidates for elections would be within a political party.

Many governors including those of the ruling party, APC, are however opposed to the clause and have asked the president not to sign the bill as it is.

In their reaction, on Wednesday, at Transcorp Hilton hotel, in Abuja, some civic groups said the bill will address the loopholes in existing electoral laws.

“The bill contains specific provisions that are directed at enhancing the quality and credibility of elections and address certain lacunas in the existing electoral legal framework.

“Such provisions in the Bill include: Legal backing for the use of electoral technologies for the purpose of voter accreditation and electronic transmission of election results; extension of restrictive timelines for electoral activities, concise definition of over-voting and the conferment of legal authority on INEC to review questionable election results,” the groups said in a co-signed statement.

While registering their respect for Mr Buhari’s invitation for comments and recommendations from relevant agencies and parastatals, the CSOs also noted the danger of delay in signing such a bill.

The groups said the timely assent to the bill “will facilitate early preparations and efficient election administration of the 2023 General Election, which is just 443 days away. It must be emphasized that the successful conduct of any election is predicated on the certainty and clarity of the election legal framework, amongst other factors.”

In their recommendations, the groups which include Yiaga Africa, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) and International Press Centre (IPC), urged Mr Buhari to continue to encourage an environment that promotes credible, inclusive and peaceful elections.

Other CSOs that co-signed the statement are the Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD), Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), and Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF).

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