Dr Sina Fagbenro-Byron, the Presidential Candidate of KOWA Party, says signing of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari was not a guarantee for free, fair elections in 2019.
Fagbenro-Byron said this at a news conference in Lagos to announce his campaign and political agenda.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that President Muhammadu Buhari, for the fourth time, declined to assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018.
President Buhari said he “principally” declined assent to Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 as it would “provide opportunity for disruption and confusion” to electoral laws ahead of the 2019 general elections.
In a letter dated December 6, 2018, sent to the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Buhari said his refusal to sign the bill into law was in the ‘best interest of the country and our democracy”.
President Buhari then requested that the National Assembly should move the enactment of the bill to after the February 2019 elections.
He said: “It would have been beautiful if Mr President signed the Electoral Act because it would have been an improvement on our electoral process as certain new modernisation were included in that Act.
”Having said that, I know that it is not the Act that will guarantee whether the 2019 elections will be free, fair or credible.
“There are two major things that determines whether elections will be free or fair – the electoral management body which is the independent National Electoral Commission and the security agencies.
“The standard of fairness and objectivity in the conduct of INEC in terms of prompt deployment of material to announcement of results without any form of bias.
“Also the enforcement of law and order by security agencies as well as ensuring that people do not breach electoral processes.
“These are the two major pointers that guarantee electoral success not the Electoral Act.
“The fact that Mr President did not sign the bill will not stop history and will not refuse us free and fair elections in 2019.
“Where we should be looking at is the proper monitoring of INEC and the security agencies to ensure they perform their duties as should and then a free and fair election will be guaranteed.”
On restructuring, Fagbenro-Byron, said there was an urgent need to restructure the country to decentralise power, ensure adequate resource control and increased state accountability.
He said: “By the special grace of God, when we get into government, at the transition period, between being elected and being sworn in, will be used to prepare a refreshed constitution that will meet the desires of Nigerians.
“That is what we will take in as the first executive bill.”
On addressing the problem of insecurity in the country, Fagbenro-Byron, said that restructuring the country with establishment of state and community policing could be a panacea.
He also said that the Economic Financial Crime Commission should be brought in to resolve the problem of terrorism.
He said: “The EFCC can help trace what we call ‘Terrorists Financing’ through BVN because insecurity is being funded the same way security is funded. Somebody is paying somebody to cause problems.
“With their techniques, they can help capture those funding insurgents in the country.
“We also need to strengthen our intelligence gathering and motivate security personnel with equipment, training and good welfare.”
He said that KOWA party was “shocked” by the purpoted endorsement of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as sole candidate of Coalition of United Political Parties for the 2019 presidential poll.
He added: “CUPP endorsement of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar came to us as a shock but we are in talks with our party leaders and very soon we will announce our position.”