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Yiaga Africa Convenes Townhall Meeting On Electoral Bill Sunday

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Yiaga Africa Convenes Townhall Meeting On Electoral Bill Sunday
Yiaga Africa Convenes Townhall Meeting On Electoral Bill Sunday

Following the rejection of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari barely 13 months to the 2023 general elections, a leading civil society organisation, Yiaga Africa, has convened a meeting that will stir up conversations for the consideration, passage and the signing of the Bill.

To this end, stakeholders are converging on Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on Sunday, January 16, 2022 to discuss how the country can get an effective electoral legal framework ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The townhall meeting is aimed as discussing key provisions of the Electoral Bill 2021 and their implications for election management, election security, electoral integrity and voter participation as well as legislative and executive action required to conclude the amendment process.

“Nigerians still await an electoral law that will make all votes count,” executive director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, said while speaking on the planned event.

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Itodo said while Nigerians wait on the National Assembly to repackage the Bill and send back it to President Buhari, or override the President’s veto, he insisted that the citizens town hall meeting on the Electoral Bill was aimed at providing solution having identify some errors in the 11 chapters of the proposed legislation.

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While Nigerians were expecting President Buhari to sign the Bill into law or communicate to the National Assembly before or on November 19, 2021 deadline, which is the stipulated time by law for the president to act, there was no communication until December 21, 2021 when the Senate officially received and read the President’s communication rejecting the Electoral Bill.

Buhari’s letter was read on the floor of the Senate on December 21, 2021 dated December 13, 2021. This raised questions on the sincerity of both the executive and the legislature on the new electoral legal framework many say will help the country’s electoral process and credibility.

Buhari in his letter to the National Assembly rejecting the electoral act amendment bill, raised concern majorly on the direct primary election to be conducted by political parties, insisting it will limit right of choices, make the electoral process expensive, increase violence and insecurity, but declined comment on several other errors in the Bill for the battle ahead.

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Recall that in August 2018, President Buhari declined assent to the 2018 Electoral (Amendment) Bill presented to him by the 8th Assembly on the ground that there were errors and cross-referencing gaps in the bill including the time it was presented to him to sign, which he said was too close to the 2019 general elections.

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LEADERSHIP gathered that the same game is playing out with the full support of some elements within the government who done want the 2021 electoral act amendment bill to see the light of the day.

While the executive is quiet on the errors found in the bill for the battle ahead, and incase the National Assembly didn’t abandoned the proposed electoral legal framework, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have identified errors in 11 sections of the bill, similar to what happened in 2018.

The CSOs that identify the errors in the 11 sections of the 2021 electoral act amendment bill includes: Yiaga Africa; International Press Centre (IPC); Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD); The Albino Foundation; CLEEN Foundation; Institute for Media and Society (IMS) and Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF).

Others are: Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ); Partners for Electoral Reform (PER); Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC); Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and Nigerian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NNNGO).

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The CSO, which is insisting the National Assembly should correct the errors and send the bill back to Buhari for his assent, said the entire process should be done so that the new electoral legal framework can be tested in the forthcoming FCT Area Council elections, Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections before the 2023 general elections.

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Speaking at a press conference on behalf of the CSOs, the Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, said they undertook an in-depth and comprehensive review of the bill to ensure all editorial, drafting and cross-referencing gaps are addressed but found out errors in 11 sections of the Bill.

He said the review identified drafting errors, repetition and cross-referencing gaps in eleven sections of the bill.

“Cross-referencing errors were identified in five sections of the bill, grammatical errors in two sections, duplicate provisions in three sections and conflicting provisions,” he said.

LEADERSHIP gathered that it is on this note Yiaga Africa is convening the Sunday’s town hall meeting.

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