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Electoral Act Amendment Bill: When President Buhari faltered

The controversies surrounding the decline by President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill have, to some extent, subsided. The Electoral Act…

The controversies surrounding the decline by President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill have, to some extent, subsided.

The Electoral Act Amendment Bill provides, among others, for the direct primary by the nation’s registered political parties. This is aimed to ensure the emergence of credible, real, not imaginary candidates, unlike indirect primary.

The President could have fulfilled his pledge of providing through the electoral umpire, credible, free, fair and transparent general elections in 2023, having been presented with the Amendment Bill by the National Assembly that worked thoroughly on it.

Buhari had during his 2015 electioneering campaigns, promised to initiate electoral reforms that would entrench a legacy of fair, free and credible elections, which Nigerians have for decades been yearning for when he assumed the mantle of leadership in the country, which apparently paved the way for his victory at the polls that year.

The bill gave President Buhari the chance to bestow that legacy to the present generation of Nigerians and those yet unborn. It could have been reduced to the barest minimum or completely eliminate electoral malpractices in the nation’s electoral process.

We can vividly recall that this was not the first time the act was amended, passed and presented to the President for his assent but he declined.  In 2018, prior to the conduct of the 2019 general elections, the President declined his assent on queer defence that it was presented too close to the elections.

Worse still, is the attitude of our representatives at the National Assembly who have the power to override the President’s veto.

It was the hope of many Nigerians that our representatives would do the needful by voting overwhelmingly to overturn the veto. This would have afforded them the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy in our democratic process. Yet from their body language, this is unlikely to happen.

The so-called hope of a free, fair, transparent and credible forthcoming general election by my President may just simply come and pass.

It is perhaps, an appropriate time, when our representatives to the lawmaking bodies are on recess, to frantically pray that when they resume to the authoritative chambers, they would reconsider and override the president’s veto with the sole objective of entrenching not only democratic reforms and norms into the electoral process but also a legacy of enduring democracy of free, fair and transparent elections in the country.

Khalid Idris Doya is a Bauchi-based Journalist who can be reached  via  [email protected]

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