8th NASS frustrated electoral reforms ― INEC

...Political parties in Nigeria unwieldy ― United Nations

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has blamed the leadership of the 8th National Assembly over the controversy that trailed the 2018 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.

President Muhammadu Buhari had declined his assent to the Bill as he noted that it was too close to the general elections.

Speaking on Thursday while playing host to a delegation led by Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Visiting Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for West Africa, the INEC Chairman told his guests that his Commission, conscious of the need for electoral reforms ahead of the last general elections submitted detailed proposals for the amendment of our electoral laws to the national assembly.

He, however, claimed that the process for the amendment of the Electoral Act was delayed by the lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly.

He said: “We look forward to any suggestions that you may have for improving the electoral process in Nigeria as we prepare for future elections.

“In particular, we need to focus attention on the electoral legal framework among several areas of reform. Indeed, long before the 2019 general elections, the Commission submitted detailed proposals for the amendment of our electoral laws in the light of our experience from the 2015 general elections and numerous off. season elections.

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“We had useful interaction with the 8th National Assembly. We also submitted extensive proposals for the improvement of the electoral legal framework for its consideration. We were assured by the leadership of the last National Assembly that works on the electoral legal framework will be concluded by December 2016.

“Unfortunately, the process dragged on for so long and became even more difficult to conclude as the general elections approached. I want to assure Nigerians that, as always, we will start early.”

Professor Yakubu also informed the delegation that his Commission has started its review of the 2019 general elections and assured that all stakeholders across the political process would be involved. He further restated INEC commitment to engage the leadership of the 9th Assembly for the improvement of the electoral process in the country.

“We hope to conclude the ongoing review of the 2019 general elections in the next two months. These reviews have become standard practice by the Commission, and involve all stakeholders across the electoral process.

Consequently, we have commenced debriefings with all our field staff to learn from them the successes and challenges we all faced in the planning and implementation of the general elections. We will also hold extensive meetings with political parties, civil society, security agencies, the media as well as other stakeholders as part of the Commission’s commitment to the continuous improvement of the electoral process in Nigeria.

Immediately thereafter, we shall engage with the leadership of the 9th National Assembly. There is so much work to do but little time ahead of us.”
Earlier in his remarks, Ibn Chambas who also holds the position as Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa expressed concern over the number of political parties in Nigeria.

The UN representative told his host that the number of political parties in Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region was a serious challenge as it hinders the electorate from taking an informed decision, just as “it distracts from the quality of the process.”
Checks revealed that about 73 political parties fielded presidential candidates in the last general elections.