The Center for Liberty (CFL), a civil society organisation, has asked the national assembly to initiate early passage of the electoral act amendment bill in January “as an obligation to good governance”.
The eighth national assembly had passed the bill and transmitted it to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
But Buhari withheld his assent to the bill on the grounds that the proposed law would usurp the constitutional powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to decide on election matters and would create “some uncertainty about the legislation to govern the process”.
The ninth senate, however, reintroduced the bill and it passed first and second reading.
In a statement on Friday, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, co-convener of the group, said the passage of the bill will rekindle the hope of Nigerians in the democratic process.
He said the bill will also give INEC the opportunity to prepare for the coming off-season elections.
“We wish to call on the National Assembly to immediately commit to the early passage of the Bill for an Act to Repeal the Electoral Act No. 5, 2010 (As Amended) and Enact the Independent National Electoral Commission Act in January 2021, as an obligation to good governance,” he said.
“It is our candid believe that the National Assembly has the resources and manpower to complete the post-public hearing process and pass the Electoral Bill in January 2021, far ahead of its stated March 2021 deadline. Having missed the initially anticipated December 2020 target, the need to have the electoral bill passed as early as January 2021, has become imperative and instructive, so that it could be tested and used in good time for the 2021 Anambra governorship election.
“Consequently, our clarion call for an early passage, will not only help to rekindle the hope of Nigerians in the democratic process, it will equally give INEC the ample opportunity to start the year fully prepared for the coming off-season elections.
“As elections remain the most critical aspect of democracy world over, it has become inevitable that we must address the deficits in the electoral system to entrench enduring electoral reforms and strengthen the capacity of INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections and guarantee electoral integrity.
“We also want to emphasize that the way that this process is handled will be very critical to improving the level of trust and confidence of citizens in the democratic process, and the National Assembly must do everything to reclaim the trust of Nigerians in the electoral process. The legislative body must be willing and committed to making the necessary sacrifice in the overall interest of the country for the timely passage of this bill.”