Civil Society Partners on Electoral Reform, on Sunday, expressed stiff opposition against the ongoing move by some Governors on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to distract President Muhammadu Buhari from assenting to the harmonised bill passed by the Senate and House of Representatives.
The CSOs’ position was contained in a statement issued by the Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, and endorsed by Centre for Liberty, Raising New Voices, Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative (YSAD), NESSACTION, The Nigerian Alliance, The Art and Civics Table and Speak Out Africa Initiative.
The CSOs observed that since the President cannot dictate to the state governors on what they do with bills passed at the state level, it is also his prerogative to sign the Electoral Bill into law based on popular demand.
They also urged the governors not to obstruct the popular will of Nigerians on the Electoral bill but should concentrate on rebuilding their parties, ensuring internal party reforms, embark on digitisation of membership registration and dues payments.
According to the partners, “the position of some of our governors on the new Electoral Act (Amendment) bill is unpopular and narrow, and it conflicts with the public interest of Nigerians. Our governors should not serve as obstacles or constitute an impediment to the signing of the new Electoral bill because it has substantially met the expectations of Nigerians.
“It is the prerogative of Mr President to sign the bill and make history, and it is not in the public interest for the governors to ask him not to sign it. The President has a glorious opportunity to take a popular action, etch his name in gold and side with the people by signing the bill into law.
“The President does not dictate to the governors when they sign bills into law at the State level; they should therefore not push him to do what will bring him into public opprobrium and create disenchantment for the electoral process.
“We are also concerned that the real motive behind this resistance from some governors may not be the issue of a single mode of primary retained in the bill, but an opportunity to kill the entire legislation over the fear of losing elections.
“Since INEC has shown the determination to conduct credible elections with technology addition, some politicians may not be comfortable with electronic aided transparency. The time has come for the governors and their political parties to embark on internal party reforms, digitise membership registration and dues payment systems, conduct transparent primaries and ensure there is accountability in the working and management of their internal affairs.
“We urge the governors and the parties to put in place sound, and credible mechanism for conducting direct primaries in Ekiti and Osun, after which we can do a review whether an amendment will be required.
“It is our considered opinion that as the only alternative, the political parties can make the direct system work, and it could help to eliminate corruption and strong middlemen,” the Coalition noted.