Written by Emmanuel Ogbeche

2019: Danger looms over electoral bill - TMG

The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, has expressed concerns over the refusal of assent by President, Muhammadu Buhari to the Electoral Amendment Bill, warning that it portends grave danger to the electoral process.

The group in a statement signed by its chairperson, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi warned that “this is capable of undermining the marginal gains towards achieving credibility in our electoral system”.

The TMG, a coalition of civil society organisations in Nigeria working on electoral issues, noted that while it recognizes this fundamental challenge, the reasons upon 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.

She faulted the president’s citing of the ECOWAS protocol as one of the reasons for declining assent, stressing that the ECOWAS protocol on elections on which the presidency hinges part of the decisions that forbids amendments to laws 6 months to an election must be properly situated and the context within which that provision was made be properly articulated.

“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 said.

According to her, the amendment 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 assent 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,” the statement read.

Akiyode-Afolabi argued 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.

She called President Buhari to reconsider his position, “assent to the bill and save the country the uncertainty that his actions might cast on the integrity and credibility of the 2019 general elections.”

 

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