A Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the timely signing of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 transmitted to him by the National Assembly.
They made the call on Thursday in Abuja at a news conference on the dangers of delaying the Presidential assent to the 2023 General Elections and democratic development in the country.
he CSOs are Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre (IPC), Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD), Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).
Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo, said that the Presidency on November 19, acknowledged the receipt of the bill from the National Assembly for presidential assent.
He said that the bill contained specific provisions directed at enhancing the quality and credibility of elections which also addressed certain lacuna in the existing electoral legal framework.
“The Civil Society Organizations welcome the decision of the President to invite comments from relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the bill,” he said.
Itodo also said the input of INEC, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Finance and the Inspector-General of Police, would be probably most crucial in that regard.
He, however, urged those office holders to be guided by overriding public interest towards strengthening the electoral process in order to deepen democracy in the country.
He said, “It is our firm belief that the bill in its current state will not only encourage increased citizens’ participation in the electoral process, it will also enhance the capacity of the democratic institutions to improve the transparency and legitimacy of electoral outcomes.”
He said the timely assent to the bill 2021 would facilitate early preparations for the 2023 general elections.
Another member of the coalition and Executive Director, IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said the timely assent to the bill by the president would help in actualizing the will and aspiration of the people.
Arogundade urged the President to honour his commitment to bequeath an electoral system that guaranteed the conduct of credible, inclusive and peaceful elections to Nigerians.