Buhari’s decision on Electoral Act not acceptable, says TMG
President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill has continued to elicit condemnation, the latest being from the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG).
According to the group, the amendment, as it is, gives no candidate any advantage, rather, it provides a level playing field for all the players in the elections and, therefore, the argument of the ECOWAS protocol is not tenable.
The TMG alleged that the presidency was taking undue advantage of its political power to refuse assent to an issue of utmost importance to the people without being mindful of the implication for the 2019 elections and the credibility of elections in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by its chairperson, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, the group cautioned that President Buhari’s failure to assent to the Bill was capable of undermining the marginal gains towards achieving credibility in the electoral system.
“The reasons the presidency is withholding assent is unattainable, as the journey to the version of the bill passed into law by the legislature is a product of extensive deliberation between the executive and the legislaturei
According to the statement, the ECOWAS protocol that forbids amendments to laws six months to an election must be properly situated and the context within which that provision was made be properly articulated.
The TMG argued that the provision was made to deter sit tight leaders in the region from making fundamental changes to their laws to hold on to power and gain unfair advantage in the electoral process.
“In this case, there seems to be a general consensus and agreement of all stakeholders on the urgent necessity of the amendments to the Electoral Act. The amendments would have addressed some gaps in the present Electoral Act that had negatively affected the credibility of Nigeria’s elections in the past and incorporated some of the recent innovations and developments in the system.
“ The off season elections have given INEC reasonable time and grounds to try out some of these key innovations, especially bordering on the application of technology such as the elimination of manual accreditation which has been one of the biggest challenges of dealing with rigging in the country.”
The TMG urged Buhari to reconsider his position, assent to the bill and save the country the uncertainty that his action might cast on the integrity and credibility of the 2019 elections.