Members of the committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari last year to review the electoral system in Nigeria have continued to express concern over the handling of their welfare and their report.
The Federal Government had said last October that it set up the committee “ to review electoral environment, laws and experiences from recent elections conducted in Nigeria and make recommendations to strengthen and achieve the conduct of free and fair elections in Nigeria.”
While inaugurating the committee in October, Abubakar Malami the Minister of Justice said that he was undertaking the assignment on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari who, he said, had affirmed a desire to deepen the country’s democracy and entrench the culture of an enduring electoral system.
He also decried some recent judicial decisions, which he said gave clear signals that the electoral system needed urgent rejigging, adding that at the end of the day, the committee is expected to come up with possible amendments to the constitution and Electoral Act which would enhance the robustness of the Nigerian system.
The committee which was set up in October last year was expected to deliver its report in ten weeks as directed by Minister of Justice but the failure of government to release funds for its operations led to the delay in submitting its report.
“We have been used and dumped. The government has not paid a kobo for the work we did and which we submitted over two months ago”, a member confided to this reporter on condition of anonymity.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Ken Nnamani expressed the same concern while submitting the report of the committee to the Minister of Justice on…this year. He said the work of the committee was delayed because government did not release the funds necessary for its operations adding that the committee had to fall back on some international donors like the DFID and NDI for financial assistance to perform the assignment.
Responding to a reporter’s question on why the committee members have not been paid for the committees work at a press conference two weeks ago, the Minister said the approval for their payment had been secured and if the members were not paid as at the time he was talking to the press, they would soon be paid.
Our reporter who spoke to some members of the committee over the weekend confirmed that no payment has been made to them yet.
Apart from the non payment of their allowances, the members are disturbed that their report may be dumped like those of similar reports on electoral reforms in the past because the government has not taken concrete steps to ensure legislative deliberation and approval of the recommendations contained in the report.
“They have not taken our report for legislative action to the National Assembly which has been passing bills on electoral reforms of late. If they did not want our report to be put to use, why did they waste our time?” a member asked our reporter.
At the press conference two weeks ago, Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami confirmed that the Executive arm has not forwarded any bill to the National Assembly based on the Nnamani committee report because the Federal Executive Council was yet to list the report for its deliberations. He however revealed that the executive was using the report to sound out the National Assembly on the recommendations contained in the report.
He further revealed that apart from writing a report, the committee also recommended bills to be forwarded to the National assembly adding that all action on these bills will have to wait till the Federal Executive Council deliberates on them.
Source: National Accord