The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Civil Society Partners on Electoral Reform, have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the pressure from some state governors and pass into law, the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill transmitted by the National Assembly to him for assent.
Civil Society Partners on Electoral Reform have also urged state governors to desist from obstructing the popular will of Nigerians on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and allow the President take its decision in favour of the citizenry.
The NLC in a letter written to President Buhari dated November 23, 2021 and signed by President Ayuba Wabba, described the 2021 Electoral Amendment bill as one of the most progressive bills to emanate from the National Assembly in recent times, adding that it was a product of thoughtfulness, courage, wisdom and patriotism.
According to Congress, the matter of direct primaries and the mainstreaming of technology in the electoral law to promote a more transparent and credible electioneering process in Nigeria were some of the amendments in the Bill demanding the President’s support and assent.
The letter partly reads: “We are not unaware of the tremendous pressure being brought to bear on you by state governors across party lines and other selfish interest groups and individuals to do otherwise.
“This pressure, we are afraid to say, represents a classic case of greed for political power, inordinate ambition, a ruthless quest for command and control in a democracy, mindless expansionist tendencies and a further proof of the iron cast will of a few persons among us to erode time-tested democratic values and to subvert our democratic institutions.
“At the moment, it is trite knowledge that governors, against all decent norms, control the state legislatures, judiciary, SIEC, and local governments; in spite of your heroic effort to free them. Given their strangle hold on SIEC and their intolerance for opposition, bestowing upon them the power to determine who goes to the National Assembly will amount to taking undue chances with our democracy.
“In light of this dark reality, we find it necessary for Your Excellency to once again demonstrate courage, leadership as well as protect our democracy.
History beckons upon you as the nation and the international community wait for you with bated breath. We recall instances in the past when you stood up to be counted. Nothing should change that now, not even the possible threat of blackmail.
“At the risk of stating the obvious, we do earnestly believe that the process of direct primaries will free up and deepen the democratic space, unmask and strip dictators of their powers, inspire confidence in honest and patriotic Nigerians to run for elections and not only the favoured godsons and goddaughters! We await your decision, capable of making or marring our democracy.”
Meanwhile, Civil Society Partners on Electoral Reform have frowned at state governors who were dictating to President Buhari to ignore the public’s interest and refrain from signing the Electoral Amendment Act Bill into law.
This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday by the Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, and endorsed by Centre for Liberty, Raising New Voices, Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative (YSAD), NESSACTION, The Nigerian Alliance, The Art and Civics Table and Speak Out Africa Initiative.
The CSOs advised the governors to rather concentrate on rebuilding their parties, ensuring internal party reforms, embark on digitisation of membership registration and dues payments.
The statement partly reads “The position of some of our governors on the new electoral act amendment bill is unpopular and narrow, and it conflicts with the public interest of Nigerians.
“Our governors should not serve as obstacles or constitute an impediment to the signing of the new electoral bill because it has substantially met the expectations of Nigerians. It is the prerogative of Mr President to sign the bill and make history, and it is not in the public interest for the governors to ask him not to sign it.
“The President has a glorious opportunity to take a popular action, etch his name in gold and side with the people by signing the bill into law.
“The President does not dictate to the governors when they sign bills into law at the state level; they should therefore not push him to do what will bring him into public opprobrium and create disenchantment for the electoral process.
“It is our considered opinion that as the only alternative, the political parties can make the direct system work, and it could help to eliminate corruption and strong middlemen.”