The Senate has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Electoral Bill which is now the legislative framework for the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
The the upper House in a statement by its spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru, also congratulated the 9th Assembly for the innovative provisions in the Electoral Act that addressed obvious lapses that have inhibited credible elections in Nigeria, adding that it has taken notice of President Buhari’s observation.
The Senate identified the conduct of primaries, campaign expenses, use of technological devices in elections, electronic transmission of results, review results declared by an electoral officer under duress as some of the reforms introduced that will ensure the credibility of elections in Nigeria.
The Senate also stated that it has taken notice of Section 84(12) of the Act, especially the concerns raised by Mr. President, and assured Nigerians that the National Assembly will give the section the desired legislative attention.
Meanwhile, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege has said that for signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law, President Buhari has written his name in gold.
Reacting to the signing of the Electoral Bill by President Buhari on Friday, Senator Omo-Agege, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga, expressed delight that the country would go into the next general election with a new electoral legal framework.
Mr. President’s assent, he noted, has removed uncertainty concerning the conduct of the 2023 general elections, stressing that the new law addresses many loopholes in our electoral system.
He recalled that although the process under the 8th Senate was fraught with mutual suspicions and bitterness, electoral reform for the Ninth National Assembly remains a priority in its legislative agenda.
“The 9th Senate had promised to bequeath a lasting legacy to Nigerians. Today’s development adds to the list of historic legislations that have defiled previous Assemblies, which the 9th Senate has passed. They include: the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Act, Petroleum Industry Act, Company And Allied Matters Act and a host of others.
Similarly, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has described the signing of the Electoral Amendment Bill into Law as a victory for the opposition in the country, stressing that 2023 is a year of victory for the opposition party once right candidates are fielded.
It also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Bill.
According to a press statement on Friday, signed by Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, CUPP Spokesperson and PDP Chieftain, stated that the Nigerian opposition family received with extreme joy the news of the signing into law of the amended Electoral Act by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Though delayed and allowing for Nigerians to mount pressure calling for assent to the law, Nigerian opposition coalition is elated that finally Nigeria has a law that will revolutionize our electoral processes.
“We therefore commend President Muhammadu Buhari for assenting to the Bill thereby creating a new and advanced legal framework for our elections,” the statement noted.
The group also commended the National Assembly for commitment and effort at ensuring that the law is amended and that there is now legal backing for some of the innovations introduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
It also commended the Civil Society Organisatons (CSOs) and Nigerians for not letting go or reducing the pressure on both the National Assembly and the President to sign the Bill.
“We also commend the opposition family for holding the government to account on the need to amend the electoral law early enough to allow INEC ample time to implement the law for a free, fair and very credible 2023 general election.
In another development, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, said Friday President Muhammadu Buhari’s complain that Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 will disenfranchise serving political office holders is selfish and not altruistic.
The governor said if President Buhari truly believes in transparent election and that everybody should have a level playing ground, he will not be suggesting the amendment of the section which he claims will disenfranchise serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at conventions or congresses of any political party.
Governor Wike stated this in Port Harcourt on Friday while reacting to President Buhari’s assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
He noted that the President’s complain that Section 84 (12) is ultra vires with the 1999 Constitution as amended, is neither here nor there.
“Mr President has told the world he is trying to protect some of his appointees who want to run election, and who are afraid of leaving office knowing fully well that having left the office it would be difficult for them to assert or to influence the outcome of party primaries.
“If Mr President really believes in free, fair and transparent election, and for everybody to have a level playing ground, Mr President will not call for such amendment.”
Governor Wike observed that President Buhari was not willing to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law, but had to succumb to pressure mounted on him by Nigerians. According to him, if the President had declined assent on the bill, the National Assembly would have been embarrassed and lost public confidence.
“For whatever it is worth, let us say Nigerians are happy that after all said and done, the President and the APC administration for the first time have bowed to pressure of Nigerians in order to have a law that enables our electoral process to be transparent. But again, this tells you the kind of party in power.”
The Rivers State governor stated that the emotions and tensions created in the polity by President Buhari’s delay to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill was unnecessary, particularly when Nigerians and those whom he claim would be disenfranchised have not complained about provisions of the Bill.
Governor Wike said President Buhari should allow ministers, commissioners, specials advisers who feel the provision of the Electoral Act will adversely affect them to proceed to court and challenge it.
“Mr President knows the function of the legislature is to make laws. The function of the executive is to implement the law, and the function of the judiciary is to interpret the law. Now Mr. President is not only doing the work of the executive, he has also delve into the work of the judiciary of interpreting the law, knowing where there is conflict. I wonder why Mr President didn’t know when he appended his signature to the Police Trust Fund, that was in conflict with the provision of the Constitution”.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.