President Buhari will sign Electoral Bill ― CSOs
• Frown at military takeover in West African countries
The coalition of Civil Society Partners (CSOs) on Electoral Reform, on Sunday, expressed optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari will sign the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 into law.
The CSOs in an open letter to the Presidency jointly signed by the Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative, Ariyo-Dare Atoye; Maryam Ahmed of Centre for Liberty; Jude Feranmi of Raising New Voices; Ken Eze of Speak Out Africa Initiative and Simi Olusola of The Nigerian Alliance, expressed confidence that the bill when signed into law will end the era of Voter’s apathy.
The CSOs also applauded the latest assurances given by President Buhari to the international community at the Biden Summit to guarantee credible elections and his commitment to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide it with every necessary support as the basis for this assertion.
While calling on Mr President to extend invitation to the representation of various stakeholders at the electoral bill signing ceremony, the Coalition frowned at the military takeover in some West African countries.
“Mr President, your invitation to the representatives of youth and women groups, people living with disabilities, and the civil society to grace the Electoral bill signing ceremony will go a long way in assuring Nigerians and the International community of your commitment to inclusive participation in our democratic process,” said the partners.
“We write on behalf of millions of Nigerians to urge you to invite the representatives of critical stakeholders to the Electoral Act signing ceremony.
“We are confident that this week of your birthday will avail you of the opportunity to renew your pact with Nigerians and sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law.”
The CSOs expressed delight at President Buhari’s statement at the Virtual Summit on Democracy organised by President Joe Biden of the United States that he will ensure “elections are conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner.
“It may interest you to know, Mr President, that the Biden administration is already facing some criticism for its guest list for the virtual summit, and Nigeria is fingered as one of the “nations with spotty records on democracy, the rule of law and human rights,” as reported by the international media.
“We are glad that you used the occasion of the global summit to state unequivocally that democratic rule in the West African sub-region “is currently being threatened by the undemocratic takeover of government by the military.
“That is why Mr President must be mindful of a few political merchants asking you not to sign the electoral bill because their greedy hold on the political parties will be threatened. They do not mean well.”
The letter also read: “We are more than convinced that the fulfilment of your pledge to the nation to make available to INEC “everything they need [including signing the Electoral Act 2021] to operate efficiently” could significantly help to improve Nigeria’s global democratic rating and put you in good standing among world leader.
“As the clock ticks, we are increasingly assured that you will side with the people and act in the overriding public interest to give your assent to the electoral bill as a legacy for deepening electoral reforms and strengthening our democracy.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that this new electoral act will help to put in place the necessary legal framework to “build back better democratic institutions and sustainable democratic values,” as you rightly told world leaders at President Biden’s summit.
“It gladdens our hearts that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has dismissed the phantom N500 billion cost; we as CSOs have equally provided alternative facts and figures, and the presidency has debunked the fake news and rumours that President Buhari has rejected the electoral bill.
“However, more is required of Mr President to sign the electoral bill before December 19 and ensure that “democratic institutions and processes are strengthened, particularly during this period of a global pandemic which has threatened social cohesion in most democracies.
“Let’s do it, Mr President. You can use the signing of this bill to renew the hope and commitment of Nigerians to the electoral and political project and strengthen us to overcome voter apathy,” the CSOs urged.
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President Buhari will sign Electoral Bill ― CSOs