By Gina Bella
The Coalition for Constitutional and Electoral Reforms, has urged the National Assembly to expedite action and ensure the Electoral Amendment Bill is passed and signed into law in January 2021, as a New Year gift to Nigerians.
The Coalition comprising of Center For Liberty, Yiaga Africa, Raising New Voices, NESSACTION and Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa, made the call in a statement signed by the Co-Convener, Center For Liberty, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, and made available to newsmen on Monday in Abuja.
Commending what was described as the “impressive turn out” of Nigerians at the public hearing of the Bill held earlier in December, the Coalition maintained that the quality presentations of suggestions and the adoptions of memoranda were a sure-testament to the eagerness and zeal of the people to have a free, fair and credible elections emplaced and tested in the 2021 Anambra election, through the quick passage of the bill.
The statement reads in part: “We call on NASS to pass electoral bill at first sitting in 2021 as a New Year gift. We have come to restate our unwavering commitment to electoral reforms and to ask the National Assembly to urgently have the Bill for an Act to Repeal the Electoral Act No. 5, 2010 (As Amended) and Enact the Independent National Electoral Commission Act 2021, passed in the first sitting of 2021, and transmitted for an immediate assent by the President.
“Having missed the much anticipated December 2020 target, the need to have the electoral bill passed and signed in January 2021, has become imperative and most instructive, so that it could be tested and used in good time for the 2021 Anambra governorship election.
“As we anticipate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to announce the date and time-table for the Anambra election any moment from now, we must take cognizance of lawful need to have The New Electoral Act 2021 (Independent National Electoral Commission Act 2021) in place, before the commencement of the implementation of the time-table.
“We therefore urge the National Assembly, that having come this far, that it should please do everything in its power and pace to have the bill passed in record time for presidential assent and before the start of electioneering process for Anambra 2021.
“All we seek is an enduring electoral reforms that will address the deficits in the electoral system, and among other things: provide for electronic transmission and publication of results, full biometrics for accreditation, conduct of general elections in one day, election finance reform, eliminate statutory delegates, ensure women and youths representation, as well as other important suggestions contained in our memoranda to the National Assembly.
“As elections remain the most critical aspect of democracy across the world, we urge the National Assembly to see this process as an opportunity to entrench enduring electoral reforms and strengthen the capacity of INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections and guarantee electoral integrity.
“We believe the way that this process is handled is very critical to improved level of trust and confidence of citizens in the democratic process and the National Assembly must do everything to reclaim the trust of Nigerians in the electoral process.”