Civil society partners on electoral matters have applauded the National Assembly for the final passage of the harmonised electoral act bill and the resolution directing its clerk for immediate transmission to the executive for presidential assent.
They also urged political parties to accept and ensure the success of the exclusive Direct Primary mode retained by the National Assembly in the bill, noting that it would provide young people and women with the opportunity to contest on their own merit and popularity.
The CSOs said this in a statement made available by Ariyo-Dare Atoye, Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative, and endorsed by Centre for Liberty, Raising New Voices, Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative (YSAD), NESSACTION, The Art and Civics Table and Speak Out Africa Initiative on Wednesday.
The statement read: “we applaud the National Assembly for the final passage of the harmonised electoral act bill and the resolution directing its clerk for immediate transmission to the executive for Presidential assent.
“While this significant feat is commendable and has not come without public agitation and the pressure mounted by the civil society and Nigerians, it must be stated that it is not yet uhuru until President Muhammadu Buhari signs it into law.
“Consequently, we urge President Buhari to remember the commitment he made to Nigerians and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that “we will make available to them (INEC) everything they need to operate efficiently, so that no one will say we don’t want to go, or that we want a third term.”
“We believe that the President’s promise that ‘here will be no excuse for failure. We will meet all of INEC’s demands,’ also entails a quick assent to the Electoral Act Bill that will be transmitted to the executive.
“President Buhari has an opportunity to etch his name on Nigeria’s democratic plate by signing this bill in record time and by making it one of the fastest legislation ever signed into law by a Nigerian President.
“We urge the executive to demonstrate a sense of responsibility, sensitivity and do the needful without allowing room for public apprehension or waiting for another round of agitation.
“On the exclusive retention of the Direct Primary in the electoral bill, it is our considered opinion that this mode is also an aggregate of ward elections that produce delegates for the expensive, corruption-fraught and cumbersome indirect primaries.
“In essence, our preoccupation at this point should be how to engage and strengthen the political parties to adopt open and transparent guidelines in the conduct of direct primary, which is capable of throwing up popular candidates.
“The direct mode of primary should be an opportunity to reorganise the internal workings of the political parties, place a premium on dues payment and financial obligation of every member and eliminate corrupt intermediaries and ravenous godfathers.
“We also acknowledge the opportunities the direct mode of primary could provide young people and women to contest on their own popularity and merit”, the statement added.