A coalition of civil society organisations under the auspices of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), has expressed concerns over the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the Electoral Amendment Bill.
In a statement signed by its chairperson, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi it said that such refusal “is capable of undermining the marginal gains towards achieving credibility in our electoral system”.
Akiyode-Afolabi said in the past, the TMG had raised concerns over the timeframe for the amendment of the electoral act and its likely implication to the 2019 Elections.
She said while TMG recognizes this fundamental challenge, the reasons which the presidency is hinging its withholding of assent on is unattainable, as the journey to the version passed into law by the legislature is a product of extensive deliberation between the executive and legislature.
Akiyode-Afolabi said she completely agrees that elections must respect international standards and protocols for the conduct of elections especially those the country has signed unto. She added that the ECOWAS protocol on elections on which the presidency hinges part of the decisions that forbids amendments to laws six months to an election must be properly situated and the context within which that provision was made be properly articulated.
The statement reads in part: ‘’The provision was made to deter sight tight leaders in the region from making fundamental changes to their laws to hold onto power and gain unfair advantage in the electoral process, in this case there seems to be a general consensus and agreement of all stakeholders on the urgent necessity of the amendments to the Electoral Act.’’
Akiyode-Afolabi also reiterated the fact that the amendment as it is, gives no candidate any advantage rather it provides a level playing field to all the players in the elections and therefore the argument of the ECOWAS protocol is not tenable.
‘’The Presidency rather is taking undue advantage of its political power to rescind ascent on an issue of utmost importance to the people without being mindful of the implication on the 2019 elections and the credibility of elections in Nigeria,’’ she said.
She averred that the amendments would have addressed some gaps in the present electoral act that had negatively affected the credibility of Nigeria’s elections in the past and incorporated some of the recent innovations and developments in the system.
‘’The off season elections she added had given INEC reasonable time and grounds to try out some of these key innovations especially bordering on the application of technology such as the elimination of manual accreditation which had been one of the biggest challenge of dealing with rigging in the country,’’ she added.
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