Why Electoral Bill Should Be Passed Immediately – Jega


Electoral bill: We'll create more problems if we adopt direct primary now,  says Jega | TheCable

…State Governors Not Against Direct Primaries – Governor Sule

Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has urged the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021.

According to him, the passage of the bill will go a long way in improving the integrity of Nigeria’s elections.

The former INEC Chairman, therefore, asked the government to do everything possible to ensure that the country goes into the next election with a new bill.

“This country will be better off if we go into the next election with a new electoral law which will enhance the integrity of the preparations and conduct of the elections,” he said during a Townhall on the Electoral bill on Sunday.

While the debate over the choice of direct and indirect mode of primaries still lingers, Professor Jega noted that the bill contains a lot of new amendments that are crucial to the integrity of the electoral process and he believes that should be the primary focus.

36 recommendations had been made for the bill by INEC to the National Assembly; 31 of which were approved with little to no amendments.

According to Jega, the amendments are the first in the last 12 years, and withholding assent to the bill, over a clause, would, therefore, be detrimental to INEC’s ability to adequately prepare for coming elections.

“A good legal framework helps to create elections with integrity and electoral integrity helps to enhance democratic consolidation and the preparation and conduct of elections democratically.

“Since 2010, we have not had substantive improvements in the electoral legal framework until now and clearly, the bill contains quite a lot of substantive improvements, so we must do everything possible to ensure that we go into the next election with a new bill.

“We already have some fundamental elements that can improve the integrity of the elections, let this be passed immediately, drop this issue of direct primaries, think more seriously about it. It is good, it should be done but if we proceed to do it the way we are trying to do it now, we are likely to create more problems than it will solve,” he said.

President Buhari had declined assent to the bill in December 2021, citing the cost of conducting direct primary elections, security challenges, and possible manipulation of electoral processes by political actors as part of the reasons for his decision.

But in a recent interview with Channels Television, he noted that for him to accent to the Bill, changes must be made to include the addition of consensus candidates, indirect primary options to the mode of selecting a candidate for an election, as against the initial direct mode as the only option to conduct primaries by political parties.

“There should be options, you can’t dictate to people and say you are doing democracy. Give them other options so they can make a choice,” he said.

Meanwhile,  Abdullahi Sule,  Nasarawa State Governor, on Sunday said state governors are not against the option of direct primaries for conducting elections.

“There is a total misunderstanding that the governors are against direct primaries. The governors are definitely not against direct primaries. As a matter of fact, a lot of the states chose whether to do direct or indirect,” he said during a Citizens’ town hall on the Electoral bill on Sunday.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had on November 9, 2021, passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and approved the electronic transmission of results.

Speaking further on the matter, Governor Sule noted that the electoral bill is more than just the direct or indirect mode of primaries for political parties.

According to him, the APC Constitution provides three modes for conducting its primaries – consensus, direct and indirect.

“It is not that the state governors are against direct. All we said was that why don’t you leave the options. The Electoral Act is far more than just direct or indirect. There are so many important things there, why are we boxing ourselves with either direct or indirect?

“Give political parties the opportunity. By the time the opportunities are given, you will be shocked in the 2023 elections, a lot of the states will still do direct,” he said.

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