A cross section of Nigerians, including a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), political parties and individuals on Friday hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Electoral Bill 2022 into Law, described it as a huge milestone in Nigerian’s quest to consolidate electoral democracy.
The groups included 25 CSOs, namely ActionAid Nigeria, Yiaga Africa, Partners for Electoral Reform (PER) International Press Centre, Institute for Media and Society, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, and The Albino Foundation.
Others are Centre for Citizens with Disability, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development and Transition Monitoring Group, CLEEN Foundation, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC).
Also included are the Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NNNGO), Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), Enough is Enough, The Electoral Hub, Centre for Liberty, Take Back Nigeria Movement, International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre (IPCRC), 100 Women Lobby Group Women in Politics Forum, Raising New Voices, Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa and Ready-To-Lead-Africa.
In a statement in Abuja, the CSOs said: “The new Electoral Act, 2022, which incorporates innovative provisions that will enhance credibility of our electoral process, signifies a new era in the history of elections in Nigeria.
“More importantly, the new Electoral Act symbolises the commitment of Nigerians to remain consistent in the demand for credible, free, inclusive, transparent and fair elections. We, as civil society commend the President for fulfilling his promise of assenting to the Electoral Bill.
“We also commend the National Assembly for their responsiveness in ensuring the Bill substantially reflects the will of the Nigerian people and for transmitting same to the President upon Citizens demands as laid back in Jan. 2022.”
The CSOs congratulated Nigerians for their active participation and vigilance in engaging the electoral reform process since inception, adding that their steadfastness, resilience and sustained pressure resulted in the successful completion of the electoral reform process.
“We call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to as a matter of urgency issue a notice of election and announce new dates for the 2023 General Elections as well as call on the National Assembly to ensure gazetted copies of the Electoral Act 2022 are available to citizens and election stakeholders in a timely manner,” the group said.
For the immediate past chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Lagos State, James Adeshina, President Buhari has lived up to the expectation of Nigerians with his assent to the amended Electoral Act.
Adeshina, who is also the Chairman, African Action Congress (AAC) in Lagos state, said the new electoral law would aid the conduct of credible elections in the country.
“The president has been able to fulfil the will of the people in a very critical period that political parties are preparing for the 2023 election.
“I believe that this development is in the best interest of deepening democracy in Nigeria and awakening the hope of the electorate to exercise their constitutional right to vote in the upcoming elections without fear of their votes not being counted,” he said.
He said efforts must be made to create a more enabling environment for Nigerians to fulfil their socio-political and economic dreams and aspirations.
On its part, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) described the signing into law of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 by President Buhari as a big win for the country’s democracy.
The National Secretary, APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), John Akpanudodehe, said the Bill would improve and engender clarity, effectiveness and transparency of the election process and reduce to the barest minimum incidences of acrimony from dissatisfied candidates and political parties.
Akpanudodehe said the Bill was in line with the policy of the APC to bequeath posterity and landmark legal framework that would pave the way for credible and sound electoral process that Nigerians would be proud of.
He said the Act would provide an improved legal framework in the build up to the 2023 general elections.
“This is a big win for our electioneering processes and our democracy,” the APC scribe said.
He appreciated the patriotic efforts of the National Assembly, civil societies, development partners and all well-meaning Nigerians whose collective efforts and support birthed the new Electoral Act.
The task of improving the credibility of the country’s elections, he said, was however, a collective and continuous one, adding that as a party and government, the APC would continue to champion needed reforms in the interest of all and the development of the country.
In his reaction, Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Chairman Transition Monitoring Group, Auwal Rafsanjani, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the electoral amended bill into law.
Rafsanjani thanked the National Assembly, the Media, Civil Society Organisations(CSOs) and Nigerians for the collective success of the new amended electoral Act.
He said that under democracy, people could not be suppressed by the few interest groups, noting that CSOs would continue to demand electoral transparency for enthronement of good governance in Nigeria.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has fulfilled his obligation by upholding the values of democracy and assenting the electoral bill.,” he said.
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) said the signing into law of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 by the President would revolutionise Nigeria’s electoral system.
Spokesperson, CUPP and PDP Chieftain, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said that although the signing into law of the amended Electoral Act by President Muhammadu Buhari was delayed a bit, the CUPP was elated that finally Nigeria has a law that will revolutionise their electoral processes.
‘We therefore commend President Muhammadu Buhari for assenting to the Bill thereby creating a new and advanced legal framework for our elections.
“We also commend the National Assembly for their commitment and effort in ensuring that the law is amended and that there is now legal backing for some of the innovations introduced by INEC. We further commended the Civil Society and Nigerians for not letting go or reducing the pressure on the bill to be signed into law.
“They have done Nigeria proud. We also commend the opposition family for holding the government to account on the need to amend the electoral law early enough.
“This will allow INEC ample time to implement the law for a free, fair and very credible 2023 general election,” he said