A civil rights group, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) has told President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Bill into law.
According to the group, it is the only democratic legacy Buhari can give to Nigeria.
The group said this will boost the confidence of the Nigerian people about the government during an election period.
PLAC said this in a statement issued on Wednesday which was signed by its Executive Director, Clement Nwankwo.
The statement titled, ‘PLAC Calls on President Buhari to Assent to the Electoral Bill,’ was made available to SaharaReporters on Thursday.
The Senate approved the report of its committee on the Electoral Bill in November 2021, and Nigerians have been awaiting its approval by the President.
PLAC said, “Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign and give assent to the Electoral Bill, 2021 transmitted to him by the National Assembly since 19th November 2021.”
PLAC stated that the bill was a product of nearly three years of work.
Also according to PLAC, the Bill went through the entire gamut of the legislative process including “call for submission of memoranda, technical review, retreats and deliberations. It also had input from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), civil society organisations and participation by the legal draft staff of the Federal Ministry of Justice”.
PLAC noted that a few interests including some “governors or groups have raised a specific concern regarding the mode of selection of candidates for elections, as passed by the Committees – which is direct primaries, only. Continuing in the statement, PLAC noted that while there may be interests with different views about the Electoral Bill, it was important to point out that these interests had the opportunity to make their input during the legislative process, especially at the call for memoranda and the public hearing”.
According to PLAC, “assenting to the Electoral Bill will be the single most important legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration”.
PLAC stated that President Buhari had expressed his interest in bequeathing a reformed electoral system to the country as part of his legacy, especially in the light of the fact that he benefitted from improvements made to the electoral system arising from the recommendations of Chief Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais Electoral Reform Committee.
The group also noted that the provisions of the new Electoral Bill “seek to improve the electoral system, including the process of voting, collation and announcement of results, and generally bring about significant changes that give confidence to citizens at all levels, including the grassroots, that their votes will count and their participation in governance improved”.
It further added that it will still be within the President’s prerogative to “bring a fresh amendment after assenting to the Bill, to address any areas of concern, as he did with the Petroleum Industry Act that he assented to, only a few months ago”.