President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, has given an assurance that the National Assembly will look into President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for the amendment of Section 84 (12) in the electoral act which bars political appointees from participating in their parties’ primaries.
This is as the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP has commended President Buhari for assenting to the electoral act amendment bill, saying that it will guarantee victory to the opposition political parties.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the signing of the amended electoral act by President Buhari at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja Friday, the President of the Senate said the National Assembly will be willing to consider the President”s request as soon as a Bill to that effect is brought before them.
He said, “You know, this is a legitimate request. And that is why commend the president. I will commend him for so many things, but let me also qualify it that even though he had a disagreement with the section, especially clause 84(12), that talks about public political office holders, he still went ahead to sign the bill into law and that is to show his commitment and desire to have an electoral law that will ensure that we have better outcomes when we do election.
“So we will look at what is he asking for, I hope that they will send the request for the amendment in good time. Because time is of essence, INEC is waiting. And because we don’t want to spill over some of these dates, unnecessarily. We will be expecting a communication from Mr. President with respect to this. And then the National Assembly in both chambers will look into the request for amendment but on the whole I think this is a wonderful development for this administration, for Nigeria, for the evolution and development and growth of democracy in Nigeria.”
Dr. Lawan said with the Electoral Act in place, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should hit the ground running and ensure that successful elections are conducted in Osun and Ekiti elections this year and the general elections nationwide in 2023.
According to him, “And for INEC, now you have what you need. INEC, you have to produce the best possible electoral exercise, right from probably the Ekiti and Osun offseason elections. And of course, in the 2013 general elections”.
Speaking in the same vein, Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, stressed that if the provisions of the Act are properly managed by INEC it will mark a watershed in the nation’s election history.
He said, “I believe it’s a landmark piece of legislation, and has far reaching and I mean, far reaching implications of the provisions contained therein. I can count off head at least 10 to 15 provisions in that electoral law, that if properly executed by INEC, and the people who the laws are made for, it will be a turning point in electoral history of Nigeria. And we will witness, not just by mouthing free, fair and credible elections, but we will actually witness free, fair and credible elections moving forward.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian opposition family, the CUPP, has said that it received with extreme joy the news of the signing into law of the amended electoral act by President Buhari.
A statement issued by Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, CUPP Spokesperson and Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said, “Though delayed and allowing for Nigerians to mount pressure calling for assent to the law, Nigerian opposition coalition is elated that finally Nigeria has a law that will revolutionize our electoral processes.
“We therefore commend President Muhammadu Buhari for assenting to the Bill thereby creating a new and advanced legal framework for our elections.
“We also commend the National Assembly for their commitment and effort and ensuring that the law is amended and that there is now legal backing for some of the innovations introduced by INEC.
“We further commend the Civil Society and indeed Nigerians for not letting go or reducing the pressure on both the National Assembly and the President to sign. They have done Nigeria proud.
“We also commend the opposition family for holding the government to account on the need to amend the electoral law early enough to allow INEC ample time to implement the law for a free, fair and very credible 2023 general election.
“We also commend INEC for its contributions and innovations which led to this very robust amendment to the electoral Act. We also remind the Commission that with today’s assent to the Bill, the ball is now squarely in the court of the Commission to begin in earnest to plan for the elections urging them to release the election timetable soonest to ensure stability and certainty in the process and in the polity.
“Finally we call on all political parties to put their acts together and embrace internal party democracy as this will enable only popular individuals to emerge as candidates of their parties as doing otherwise will lead to their failure as only candidates voted for by Nigerians can now win elections in Nigeria since the 2023 election is highly anticipated to be free, fair and credible.”