A coalition of media and civil society stakeholders, including the International Press Centre (IPC) and nine others, has expressed worry over their perceived delay by the National Assembly in concluding the electoral reform process which commenced last year.
The coalition described as worrying, the silence from the National Assembly in the Electoral Amendment Bill since the public hearing in December 2020 and the retreat to consolidate citizens’ feedback into the bill in late January 2021.
The coalition stated this yesterday in Lagos at a stakeholders parley and joint press conference on electoral reform, organised by the implementing partners of the European Union Support Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) project.
Presenting the position of the coalition which was contained in a communique signed by the 10 groups, the Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said the delay in concluding the electoral reform process served as a reminder of the failed process in 2018.
He said: “There’s no doubt that over the last two decades of uninterrupted civil rule, there is still a deep yearning for reforms that can significantly inspire citizens’ trust in democracy.
“However, the silence from the National Assembly on the Electoral Amendment Bill since the public hearing in December 2020 and the retreat to consolidate citizens’ feedback into the bill in late January 2021, is worrying.
“Nigerians deserve that the elected representatives readily respond to the needs of the people and grant the request for a new electoral law that genuinely captures the wishes of the people. This delay in concluding the process serves as a reminder of the failed process in 2018 and the opportunity lost to consolidate Nigeria’s democracy in 2019.”
The group, however, drew the attention of the National Assembly to its proposals contained in the memorandum it submitted to the lawmakers, where it demanded the inclusive access and participation in the electoral process with particular attention to women, youths, and people living with disabilities.
It urged the National Assembly to give utmost consideration to inclusion issues such as protecting the boring rights of the blind and visually impaired voters.
The coalition also called on the lawmakers to regulate the cost of nomination of candidates to promote political inclusion, and promote the inclusion of women, youths, and persons with disability in politics.
In the area of enhancing the operations of the electoral management, which is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the coalition advocated that appropriate framework, tools and overall enabling environment should be provided for INEC to be able to conduct credible and acceptable elections in the country.