The Presidency on Thursday disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari is in a last minute consultation with critical stakeholders as he races against time to take a decision on the re-worked Electoral Act Amendment Bill (2022).
Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Babajide Omoworare who made the disclosure said he has it on good authority that Buhari is vigorously meeting with the Attorney-General of the Federaton, Abubakar Malami and other key stakeholders on the Electoral bill.
Omoworare made the disclosure at a one-day Policy Dialogue organized by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) in collaboration with West Minister Foundation for Democracy, WFD, in Abuja.
The Presidential aide however noted that Buhari is inclined to sign the reworked document this time around especially as all the grey areas raised by him in the rejected Electoral Act Amendment Bill (2021) have been attended to by the National Assembly.
Omoworare’s assurances that Buhari will sign the document before the expiration of the 30 days allowed by law was however not enough to douse anxieties among various discussants at the policy dialogue.
Giving credence to Omoworare’s statement that Buhari is in high consultation; organizers said the Attorney General had graciously asked to be excused from the public conversation as he was still consulting with the President on the matter.
Former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega was not particularly impressed at the seeming delay on the part of the President to sign the Electoral bill, 11 days after readmitting the document from the National Assembly.
Even more displeasing to the former INEC boss is what he described as a growing lack of sense of urgency by both the executive and the legislature to complete work on the Electoral Bill.
He said Nigeria cannot continue to dilly-dally much further on the Electoral bill and go into fresh elections in 2023 with the same old laws.
The snail pace of work on the Electoral bill is beginning to have a toll on INEC’s preparation for the General elections next February as confirmed by INEC Chairman, Professor, Yakubu Mamood.
The INEC Chairman who was represented by his Chief Technical Adviser, Professor, Bolade Eyinla said with the new Electoral law still being awaited; the commission has not been able to come up with clear cut guidelines for the conduct of the elections.
He said INEC and not the Executive nor the National Assembly should initiate proposed amendments to the Electoral laws as it is being practiced in neighbouring Ghana.
The Executive Director, YIAGA Africa and the Proponent of Not-Too-Young-To-Run, Samson Itodo who joined in the conversation virtually believed that the current document before President Buhari was good and has all the essential ingredients to enhance the integrity of Nigeria’s electoral system.
He shared in the sentiment expressed by Omoworare that President Buhari is favourably disposed to the Electoral bill this time around and will deliver it as legacy to the Nigerian people.
Earlier in their opening remarks, the Director General National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Abubakar Sulaiman and his co-organizer and Country Representatives, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), Adebowale Olorunmola believed the document awaiting Presidential assent will be the game changer to Nigeria’s record of flawed elections.