By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja, Dec. 14, 2020 A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Monday urged the National Assembly to strive towards passing the Electoral Amendment Bill in January, ahead of the 2023 general poll.
Ms Eniola Cole, the spokesperson for the group and Executive Director, NESSACTION said this while briefing newsmen in Abuja, urging the lawmakers to ensure the bill was passed in their first sitting in 2021 for President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent.
Cole said that the coalition was made up of five CSOs- Centre For Liberty, Yiaga Africa, Raising New Voices, NESSACTION and Citizenship Advocacy Africa.
She urged the national assembly to do everything within its powers to ensure that the bill was passed in record time for presidential assent before the start of electioneering processes for Anambra governorship election in 2021.
“Haven missed the much anticipated December target, the need to have the electoral bill passed and signed in January has become imperative.
“This is most instructive, so that it can be tested and use in good time for the 2021 Anambra governorship election,” she said.
Cole commended the massive turn out of Nigerians, quality presentations, suggestions and submission of memoranda at the public hearing on the electoral act amendment bill.
She said thatvthe actions were demonstration of citizens’ eagerness to have free and credible elections in the country in the nearest future.
“As we anticipate the announcement of the date and timetable for the Anambra election any moment from now, we must take cognisance of lawful need to have the new Electoral Act 2021 in place.
“The new Electoral Act 2021 (Independent National Electoral Commission Act 2021) should be in place, before the commencement of the implementation of the timetable,” she said.
Cole said that the coalition was impressed by the national assembly efforts in organising the public hearing in the early part of December.
“We also appreciate the lawmakers for giving civil society organisations and partners, the opportunity to present their memos, so as to give Nigerians hope for early passage of the bill in 2021.
“All we seek is an enduring electoral reforms that will address the deficits in the electoral system.
“Reforms that will among other things; provide for electronic transmission and publication of results, full biometrics for accreditation, conduct of general elections in one day and election finance reform.
“Reforms that will eliminate statutory delegates, ensure women and youths representation, as well as other important suggestions contained in our memoranda to the national assembly,” she said
Cole urged the national assembly to see the process as an opportunity to entrench enduring electoral reforms and strengthen the capacity of INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections to guarantee electoral integrity.
“We believe that the way this process is handled is very critical to improving level of trust and confidence of citizens in the democratic process.
“The national assembly must do everything to reclaim the trust of Nigerians in the electoral processes,” she added.