Nigerians have called on President Buhari and the National Assembly to ensure the electoral bill 2021 becomes law without delay.
At a town hall meeting on the bill in Abuja organised by YIAGA Africa and streamlined live on national television channels on Sunday.
Speaking at the meeting, the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Olumide Apata, said, his association will leverage on the members who are lawyers to pressure them to resend their bill to the president for assent.
“We don’t mind if the direct or indirect primaries are stepped down now. There are other aspects of the bill that will enhance and improve our electoral processes.”
Former INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega affirmed that direct primaries would improve Nigeria’s elections.
Mr Jega warned that direct primaries could only be implemented when there’s an adequate record of the members of each political party. “We must ensure that the bill becomes law as soon as possible. The bill points to a lot of substantive improvement.”
Ayuba Wabba said “if the politicians know that one man, one vote count – one woman, one vote count; they will sit right to be accountable to the people to achieve good governance. The only thing that can help us achieve this now – is the electoral bill 2021.”
The National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists.” (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo said, “The politicians are the direct beneficiaries of a flawed electoral process but we are also currently placing our confidence on the same politicians for a better electoral law.”
He stressed further that Nigerians must put the nation on the front burner adding that if the electoral law and democracy work, it works for all Nigerians, and it if collapses, everyone would be affected.
House of Representatives spokesman, Mr Ben Kalu promised that the house will work on the bill in a matter of few days and transmit it to the president for assent.
Different groups and organisations, and Nigerians at the meeting all demanded that the bill becomes a law as soon as possible to allow INEC to prepare for the 2023 general elections.
Earlier, Executive Director of YIAGA, Samson Itodo in his opening speech said, presidential assent on the bill is important as the 2023 general election is less than 300 days away.
Apart from the popular narratives on direct or indirect primaries, other top ten provisions in the bid include; early release of election funds to INEC; inclusion of persons with disabilities; legalizing electronic accreditation of voters; redefined over-voting and substitution of a candidate in the event of death in an election.
Others include; power to review election results declared under duress; early conduction of party primaries and submission of list of candidates; early commencement of campaigns; political neutrality of INEC personnel upon appointment and penalty for contravention; and electronic transmission of results.