…As 75 Political Parties Threaten To Boycott
The chairmen of 75 political parties under the auspices of Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) on Monday threatened to boycott the 2019 general elections if the new amendment to the Electoral Act is not assented to by the president.
The chairmen who passed a vote of confidence on the Chief Peter Ameh-led IPAC leadership, promised to work closely with the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, to ensure free and fair elections in 2019.
The decisions were made during a meeting held at the INEC Electoral Institute, Abuja, which was attended by about 75 of the 91 national chairmen of political parties.
“IPAC resolved that, in view of the fact that Nigerians want free, fair and credible elections in 2019 which the new Electoral Bill before President Buhari (can guarantee), we as major stakeholders in the electoral process call on the president to sign the Bill into law.
“Should he refuse, then we will not be part of the electoral process in 2019 that doesn't promise credibility and fairness,” IPAC said in a statement issued by its national publicity secretary, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere.
The group alleged that the delay or refusal to sign the bill would throw the country into the bloodiest electoral conquest and put INEC in a tight situation that would make free and credible election impossible in 2019
Part of the statement reads: “IPAC expressed concerns over the tense political mood in the country and the issues concerning how to secure police neutrality come 2019 and resolved to seek audience with the IG of police to address some of the fears concerning police role as we approach 2019.”
…Don't Stampede PMB Into Sign Electoral Act Amendment Bill- Senate Leader
Meanwhile, the Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, has warned against stampeding President Muhammadu Buhari into signing the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment bill into law.
It was recalled that before the latest version was submitted to the Presidency, the president had withheld assent to the document about three times, attributing the decision to 'errors' in the amended bill.
With the 2019 general elections fast approaching, it is feared that the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment bill may not meet the stipulated time if not urgently signed into law by the president.
But speaking to State House correspondents yesterday after jumaat prayer at the presidential villa, Abuja, yesterday, Lawan advised that President Buhari should be allowed to take his time to study the document to avoid errors.
“And I will advise, even though I am not one of his advisers, that he goes through what has been sent to him line by line, understand whatever his advisers will tell him and of what we have sent that will make the elections in 2019 better, then he signs. But, if however he discovers some provisions that will bring contradictions and controversies, he can withhold assent.
“I'm not advocating that he withholds assent but if he does, that is his right. I want to tell you that the APC caucus in the National Assembly stands with Mr. President on this.”
According to him, the amended 2006 Electoral Act could still be used for the 2019 general elections.
If properly implemented, the lawmaker said that the 2006 Electoral Act could still deliver a much more transparent, free and fair elections in 2019 than what was experienced in 2015.
“The President is willing to sign the bill provided it meets certain conditions that will make our electoral processes better. I believe the president is studying this bill,” he stated
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed more bills than any of the country's previous presidents.
The lawmaker noted that the president “has read and objected to certain provisions in many bills that were eventually sent back to the National Assembly for further legislative action before returning to him to look at them again.
“The previous government of President Jonathan didn't sign much, they kept most of the bills sent by the National Assembly. So, I want to give kudos to the President for ensuring that he looks into the bills before signing.”
“The electoral bill you are talking about has been sent back twice or thrice, that is to tell you that the president is willing to sign the bill provided it meets certain conditions that will make our electoral processes better and more sane,” the Senate leader explained.