Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives us great pleasure to welcome you to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV) press conference on the status of the electoral amendment bill.
In line with our firm commitment to electoral integrity and responsibility of providing citizens oversight on the electoral process, the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote issues this statement on the status of electoral amendment bills.
YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote observes as follows;
- In line with its statutory mandate, the National Assembly proposed and passed amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act as amended. These amendments were transmitted to President Buhari for assent three times and the President declined assent to the bills sighting interference with INEC constitutional powers, drafting irregularities, cross referencing errors and competence of the National Assembly to legislate on local government elections
- The proposed Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends 42 clauses of the Electoral Act. No 6, 2010. The goal of the electoral amendment as enunciated in the explanatory memorandum to the bill was to;
- Restrict the qualification of elective office to relevant provisions of the constitution
- Recognize the use of Smart Card Readers and other technological devices in elections
- Provide for sequence of elections and party primaries
- A timeline for the submission of list of candidates; criteria for substitution of candidates
- Limit of campaign expenses
- Address the omission of names of candidates or logo of political parties
- The National Assembly however deleted some controversial sections highlighted by the President in the subsequent versions of the bill it transmitted to the President. These sections include Section 25 on sequence of elections and Section 152 on local government elections. The National Assembly also redrafted some clauses of the bill to address concerns expressed by the President.
- The latest rejection of the electoral amendment bill by the President was communicated to the National Assembly on August 30, 2018. This is the third time the President is declining assent to the electoral amendment bill.
Issues and matters arising
- The Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2018 bill forwarded by the National Assembly to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent in August 2018 contained only 15 clauses as opposed to 41 clauses in the original version of the bill. What happened to the remaining 26 clauses?
- In the version of electoral amendment bill transmitted to the President for assent in August 2018, the amendment to Section 49 legalizing the use of Smart Card Reader or any other technological device for accreditation of voters was omitted.
- YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote is concerned with the secrecy of the electoral amendment process. More worrisome is the failure of the National Assembly to inform the public on the amendments transmitted to the President for assent, as well as the silence on the part of President when a modified version of the electoral amendment bill omitting key amendments was transmitted to him. This signals a lack of commitment to electoral reform.
- YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote notes that non-conclusion of electoral amendments constitutes a major threat to the credibility of the 2019 elections. The executive and the National Assembly should rise above politics and conclude all amendments to the electoral act to safeguard the integrity of the 2019 elections.
- YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote is also concerned that some proposed amendments in the electoral law have implications for ongoing electoral activities conducted in line with the extant electoral law. This might be a subject of litigation if not properly managed.
- The Executive and National Assembly should work together to conclude all the electoral amendments by the end of September 2018. This includes ensuring key amendments that deepen the integrity of the electoral process are signed into law g. legal recognition for the use of card reader for elections.
- The President should fulfill his promise of promoting electoral reforms by expediously assenting to the electoral amendment bill when transmitted to him by the National Assembly.
Board Member, Watching The Vote Working Group
Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA
About YIAGA AFRICA
YIAGA AFRICA is a non-governmental organization promoting democracy, constitutionalism and youth participation in Africa. YIAGA AFRICA achieves its goal through research, capacity development and policy advocacy. YIAGA AFRICA operates as a citizens’ movement poised with the onerous mandate of enhancing the quality of democratic governance, public accountability and civic participation. YIAGA AFRICA has been involved in election observation since 2007 and it is one of the leading organizations working on elections in Nigeria.
The YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV) is a citizen-led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections in Nigeria using technological tools like SMS and evidence-based research methodology tools for election observation. The initiative is designed to promote credible elections and boost citizens’ confidence in the electoral process through citizens observation of electoral activities in the electoral cycle. YIAGA AFRICA is enhancing the quality of democracy in Nigeria using Watching The Vote as a platform for promoting cutting-edge electoral policies, credible elections, civic participation and democratic consolidation.