The Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, has called on the National Assembly to halt the passage of the so-called new Electoral Bill 2021 scheduled for this week, until appropriate corrections are made, consistent with citizens’ popular demands.
The party says it is to safeguard the integrity and acceptability of future elections in Nigeria, and called on the National Assembly to suspend the passage of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), as it currently is.
National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Ballo Falalu, said the current amendment, which is expected to be passed on Tuesday by the National Assembly, has failed to address some of the critical electioneering issues, which had in the past hampered the credibility of elections results and thrown up candidates allegedly winning through fraudulent means.
The party cited Section 50 (2) of the bill, which deliberately prohibits the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to electronically transmit results; Section 65, which deprives the INEC the power to review results declared under duress; and Section 88, which is upscaling election finding, creating a system justifying victory for only the highest bidder as examples of the need for the bill to be reworked and be made fairer and more acceptable to Nigerians.
“For about a decade, since 2010, no serious amendments have been made to the Nigerian Electoral law, the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended), in spite of the experiences garnered in the 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections and many other off-cycle elections, which clearly pointed to the need for significant reforms.
“Thus, when the 9th National Assembly announced its commitment to electoral reforms and renewed the process of enactment of a new Electoral Act, Nigerians who wish to see the integrity of elections upscale, and democratic development deepened, individually and in their various groups, saw this as a welcome development long overdue and vigorously supported the process.
“They submitted memoranda, interacted with the honourable members and senators and actively participated in the public hearings. The Committees of both Chambers responded fairly favorably to the needs and aspirations of Nigerians for credible reforms in the first draft, even though it could have done better.
“Regrettably, the so-called final copy of the Electoral Bill 2021 now before the Nationally Assembly, which is set to be passed on Tuesday July 6th or thereabout, has jettisoned some of the key accepted recommendations by stakeholders and also includes fresh amendments, which if not quickly addressed, would jeopardize the integrity of future elections in Nigeria. Three issues / matters in particular need to be revisited and addressed.
“In particular, PRP calls upon the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency:
“Review Section 50(2), remove the prohibition of electronic transmission of results and grant INEC the power to introduce a technologically robust and transparent electronic transmission of results so as to remarkably improve the integrity of Nigerian electoral process;
Revisit Section 65, and grant INEC the legal power to appropriately review the results declared by any returning Officer under duress; and
“Revisit Section 88, and drastically reduce the campaign financing thresholds and limits, to curtail the influence of money in politics and create a level playing field for all contestants, without undue advantage being granted to the rich and wealthy contestants.
“For members of the National Assembly to truly answer the title of peoples’ representatives, they would need to bring into effect an Electoral Act that respects and represents the wishes of the Nigerian people, as articulated and expressed during the consultations and public hearings which were held.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the PRP condemns any attempt by anybody or group of persons to hoist on Nigerians a so-called New Electoral Act, which would undermine rather than improve the integrity of elections in Nigeria.
“In conclusion, the PRP calls on all patriotic Nigerians, individually and in organized groups, to bring pressure to bear on the members of the National Assembly to do the right thing, rather than rush a new Electoral Bill which would significantly undermine the integrity of future elections in Nigeria,” the statement said.