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We Will Not Sleep Until You Pass Electoral Act Amendment Bill – CSOs Tell Senate

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By Matthew Ogune, Abuja

A coalition of fourteen Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has vowed to sustain the current pressure on the Ninth National Assembly to ensure that it concludes and transmits the Electoral Act Amendment Bill to the President for assent before June 12, 2021.

At a protest on Tuesday in Abuja, they reminded the Assembly, under the leadership of the Senate President, Ahmed Lawal and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila that they promised Nigerians a people-responsive Electoral Act by the first quarter of 2021.

Speaking on behalf of the protesters, YIAGA Director of Programme, Cynthia Mbamalu noted that CSOs are worried that the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is yet to be presented for third and final reading in both chambers of the National Assembly, even as the nation is now in the second quarter of 2021.

According to Mbamalu different partners are currently meeting with key stakeholders in the national assembly to make key demands, adding that the group has also presented a ten priority demand at the national assembly that must be considered before transmission to the President.

She maintained that NASS must undertake an in-depth consideration of the citizens’ priority issues to address identified gaps in the current electoral legal framework.

Her words: “We will no longer sleep on our right, yes 2018 has passed, this time around we are not going to wait till next year.

“We are going to keep hitting until we have our laws before the Anambra election.”

Founder, Albino foundation, Jake Epelle who noted that the damands of CSOs are germane aspirations of Nigerians, insisted that the Ninth Assembly has an obligation to work expeditiously on passing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 and pass same to the President for assent.

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According to Epelle: “This is an urgent national priority. Together with Nigerians, we firmly believe that if the current electoral legal framework is not reviewed and reformed, it will have negative impact and consequences for democratic consolidation.

“The NASS must recognise that passing the Electoral Bill in good time will engender expeditious action by the executive.

“The speedy enactment of the Bill will give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the legal clarity to adequately plan and efficiently conduct future elections, particularly the Anambra governorship election scheduled for 6 November’s 2021.

‘Consequently, we join our voices with millions of Nigerians to call on the National Assembly to speed up the process for the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

“In the same vein, we call on the President to speedily assent to the bill and deliver a brand-new Electoral Act 2021 to Nigerians ahead of the 2021 democracy day celebration on 12 June 2021.”

For the Co-convener of Centre for Liberty (CFL), Ariyo-Dare Atoye elections has remain the fulcrum and constant cardinal feature in a democracy, maintaining that It is important to protect all conditions and instruments required to conduct free, fair and credible elections to ensure that “the sovereign will of the people” prevail always.

According to Atoye, the seeming lack of progress in the National Assembly on the Electoral Act Amendment bill is worrisome, adding that Nigerians demand that their elected representatives respond to the urgent need for an electoral legal framework that genuinely strengthens the electoral processes and procedures, promotes inclusivity and addresses impunity.

He regretted that the continued delay in concluding the process is reminiscent of the failed process in 2018 and attendant impact on the 2019 General Election.

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