Electoral Act Amendment: Law will usher in robust democracy – Reps

The House of Representatives says signing of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into Law by President Muhammadu Buhari will usher in more robust democracy.

The spokesperson for the House, Benjamin Kalu, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.

Mr Kalu said that signing the bill into law had opened various options of participation in politics, adding that there would be no room for excuses.

According to him, “this is a happy day for democracy in Nigeria. The ninth assembly has been a great voice to this achievement”.

“We have stood on the side of Nigerians to ensure that what was worth doing at all was worth doing well.

“We want to thank the chairman of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate, Sen. Ahmed Lawal. We also thank the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila.

“The two chambers have exhibited a lot of maturity in governance by not involving in any ego trip, but by collaborating and cooperating with the executive,” he said.

He said the lawmakers had ensured that legislation was not self serving but in the interest of the country and public interest in line with world best democratic ethos and principles.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the courage to sign the bill since he would no longer run for election.

“The Electoral Act is not about him but a legacy that the President has left for electoral reform and generations unborn.

“The President keeps pruning it to suit what he feels is best for the country, how do we tailor it to be all embracing and all incorporating.

“That is why he painstakingly looked at it and signed before the expiration of the 30 days allotted,” he said.

NAN reports that some of the key provisions of the proposed amendment of the Electoral Act stipulate that parties must conduct primaries and submit their list of candidates at least, 180 days before the general elections.

Clause 65 states that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can review results declared under duress, while clause 3(3) stated that funds for general elections must be released at least one year before the election.

Clause 84 stipulates that anyone holding a political office must relinquish the position before they can be eligible to participate in the electoral process either as a candidate or as a delegate.

Clause 94 allows for early commencement of the campaign season. By this provision, the campaign season will now start 150 days to the Election Day and end 24 hours before the election among others.

Mr Buhari declined assent in the 8th Assembly led by Bukola Saraki, while current 9th Assembly’s first amendment bill sent to the President was rejected for having direct primaries as the only option of choosing candidates.

It was, however, reworked and three additional options of: direct, indirect primaries and consensus were included.

According to Mr Kalu, I am happy that finally, the President again, leaves a legacy that all of us will always remember. The president has done what was very difficult for many past administrations.

NAN reports that Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, witnessed the signing of the Bill.(NAN)