Following the signing of the 2022 Electoral Amendment bill into law by President Mohammadu Buhari, the Human & Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) has expressed gladness over the development, howbeit warned against thwarting of the law by politicians using their usual manipulation of implementations every of good law.
In a statement delivered by the chairman of HEDA, Olanrewaju Suraju, the civil group hopes that the progressive provisions contained in the Act would facilitate the conduct of free, fair and credible elections going forward.
According to Suraju, there are fears that the pressure-induced assented piece of legislation (though laudable) may not be useful unless it is implemented to the letter by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), politicians, law enforcement agencies, political parties, media with the support of every Nigerian.
“It is a welcome development though after a back and forth delay occasioned by several political manipulations, however, we believe it would go a long way to fix some challenges faced by the country’s political system and process.
He warned that Nigerians should resist any person (or corporate) bent on thwarting and or manipulate the law without actually breaking it in any guise.
“Many have expressed fear that some state actors would stop at nothing to deploy forces and instrumentalities of financial power among others to induce or deceive gullible electorate, more so, a privileged few are also determined to “bend the law without conspicuously breaking it” to achieve their sinister motives”
Suraju called on the National Assembly to “ensure that gazetted copies of the Electoral Act 2022 are available to citizens and election stakeholders in a timely manner” hence “a delay in this will further reduce the opportunities for citizens and stakeholders to sufficiently familiarise themselves with provisions in the new Act and support its implementation.
He believes elections in the country would never be the same again and more Nigerians would be encouraged to get their PVCs, exercise their franchise and “be in the know” (be informed), knowing their votes would count going forward.
“No doubt the Electoral Act 2022 which replaces the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) would go a step further to fix some anomalies in the electoral processes, reduce electoral fraud and give the people a sense of belonging when their votes count,” he said.
“For Nigerian elites, law is one thing, but the respect for the law is another thing. No matter how beautiful a law is, if the desire, commitment, and obligation to ensure compliance with law is lacking, the law could be less effective and efficient. Thus, the need to respect the law now that Nigeria has an improvement over what it had in the previous years becomes imperative,”
On the President’s reservations about Section 84 (12) of the new law, which bars political appointees from voting or being voted for in political parties’ congresses and conventions, he advised the NASS to focus on other pressing issues and strengthening of the Act.
The section 84 (12) reads, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
“It is expected that Nigerians would heave a sigh of relief, starting from Ekiti and Osun elections and following the results that shall be announced, if those on whose shoulders rest the onus to see this new law are obeyed and defaulters severely punished discharge their responsibilities,” he added.