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Electoral Bill: CSOs Slam Betrayal By National Assembly

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A group of civil society organisations, on Thursday, accused the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, and the National Assembly of betraying Nigerians after failing to meet two deadlines set for the passage of the Electoral Bill 2020.

The group, which comprises of Centre for Liberty, Concerned Nigerians, The Electoral Hub, and Raising New Voices Initiative, also noted that members of the 9th Senate had continued to show their true colours, especially as manifested in the delay to pass the bill.

Speaking at a joint press briefing in Abuja, the CSOs said they would mobilise Nigerians to peacefully Occupy the National Assembly until the lawmakers passed the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act.

Ariyo Atoye (Centre for Liberty), who spoke on behalf of the coalition, said: “As of today, the National Assembly has failed to meet two dates and deadlines set for the passage of the Electoral Bill – December 2020 and 31 March 2021.

“The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan and the leadership of the joint committee of the National Assembly on Electoral Matters, have betrayed the solemn pledge made to Nigerians on 9 December 2020, at the public hearing conducted on the electoral bill.

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“At this juncture, Nigerians must get ready to peacefully Occupy the National Assembly and prevail on our lawmakers to immediately pass a reformed electoral Act that will bring integrity to our elections, embrace technology and open the process to transparency and accountability.”

The CSOs also accused the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of nonchalance towards electoral reforms.

The group regretted that the country would miss the opportunity to test-run the proposed amendments to the electoral law with the forthcoming Anambra governorship election.

Atoye further said, “We are worried that the 9th National Assembly appears unperturbed about passing a bill that could give them lasting legacies and etch their names and session in gold.

“It is also troubling that the ruling All Progressive Congress and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party are less concerned about electoral reforms

“Equally disheartening is the nonchalant attitude of the smaller parties and political stakeholders to the passage of a new electoral act. They always prefer to lament without any coordinated action.”

So, he revealed that the coalition had written letters to some of Nigeria’s foreign partners in democratic governance to alert them about what he described as the National Assembly’s unpreparedness to pass a new Electoral Act.

“We have equally informed them to review their partnership with the National Assembly and predicate future support on the passage of the Electoral Act,” Atoye added.

On his part, Jude Feranmi (Raising New Voices Initiative), stressed that the continuous delay of the passage of the bill would further heighten tensions in the polity.

Also, Chinenye Agwuna (The Electoral Hub) said the early passage of the Electoral Bill would give the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, sufficient time to make adequate preparations required to conduct credible elections in 2023.

“We deserve free, fair and credible elections; we deserve good leaders that credible polls will throw up; we deserve good governance that good leaders will bring; Nigeria deserves the best,” they said.

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