Youth groups and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have asked Senate President Ahmed Lawan has been asked to resign or be impeached over the failure of the National Assembly to pass the Electoral Act amendment ahead of the 2023 General Elections.
The organations include Ariyo-Dare Atoye, Center For Liberty (CFL); Deji Adeyanju, Concerned Nigeria (CN); Princess Hamman-Obels and Chinenye Agwuna The Electoral Hub (TEH); and Jude Feranmi, Raising New Voices Initiative (RNVI) made the call on Thursday in Abuja at a news conference.
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According to them, in the last 15 months, they have consistently engaged the lawmakers and appealed to the 9th National Assembly to make the passage of a new Electoral Act a major priority.
“As at today, the National Assembly has failed to meet two dates and deadlines set for the passage of the Electoral Bill being December 2020 and 31 March 2021.
“The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan and the leadership of the joint committee of the National Assembly on Electoral Matters, have betrayed the solemn pledge made to Nigerians on 9 December 2020, at the public hearing conducted on the electoral bill,” a statement jointly signed and read by the organisations said.
They also urged Nigerians to get ready to peacefully Occupy the National Assembly and prevail on the lawmakers to immediately pass a reformed electoral act that will bring integrity to the elections, embrace technology and open the process to transparency and accountability.
“We are worried that the 9th National Assembly appears unperturbed about passing a bill that could give them lasting legacies and etch their names and session in gold.
“It is also troubling that the ruling All Progressive Congress and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party are less concerned about electoral reforms.
“Equally disheartening is the nonchalant attitude of the smaller parties and political stakeholders to the passage of a new electoral act. They always prefer to lament without any coordinated action,” Atoye said.
He added that the time has come for young members of the political parties in Nigeria, women, activists, journalists and other concerned Nigerians to join them in Occupying the National Assembly (#OccupyNASS) to demand for the passage of a reformed electoral act.
He said, “Except the bill is tabled and passed, we shall be left with no option than to Occupy NASS after the Ramadan.
“We deserve free, fair and credible elections; we deserve good leaders that credible polls will throw up; we deserve good governance that good leaders will bring; Nigeria deserves the best.”
He also said that they have written letters to some Nigeria’s foreign partners on democratic governance to alert them that the 9th National Assembly appears unready to pass a new Electoral Act.
He said, “We have equally informed them to review their partnership with the National Assembly and predicate future support on the passage of the Electoral Act.”
They said that the Bill must be passed into law now to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) sufficient time to implant, internalize and implement the Bill.
This, they said was to draw lessons from the outcome of the 2017 Kenya general elections, marred by violence and logistical problems and which the USAID in its report said the late adoption of an electoral legal framework impacted negatively on the outcome of the election.