Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, says the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill will allow the ruling All Progressives Congress to exploit the identified loopholes in the current Electoral Act in the coming general elections.
In a speech to mark the resumption of the House from the Christmas and New Year break delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday, the Speaker said Nigerians would accept nothing short of complete openness, a level playing ground and strict adherence to extant Laws in the conduct of the 2019 elections.
He also noted that the palpable fears of well-meaning Nigerians and the international community of the possibility of some forces working to manipulate the coming elections by exploiting the identified loopholes in the current Electoral Act, may become a reality if proactive steps are not taken by critical stakeholders.
He said the National Assembly has done its possible best to deepen the nation’s democratic process by providing mechanisms that would guarantee successful and rancour-free elections by passing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for the third time after the President had declined assent to it twice, meaning that the impending general elections will not benefit from the innovative mechanisms crafted in its collaboration with international and development partners.
The Speaker stated, “It should remain a thing of pride for us that the National Assembly has done its best by taking steps to guarantee the successful and rancour-free conduct of the 2019 General Elections by passing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for the third time after Mr President had declined assent to it twice. Lack of passage into Law of the amended Bill means that the impending General Elections will not benefit from the innovative mechanisms crafted in its collaboration with international and Development partners.
“We had intended, through this Bill, to minimise the risk to the survival of our hard-won democracy through responsive and timely legislation aimed at ensuring free, fair and transparent elections. Nonetheless, as Parliament, we have done our best to guarantee the stability and growth of our fragile democracy, and I have no doubt that history will be very kind to us.
Hon Dogara also called on the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, to take a hard look at Nigeria’s national security architecture with a view to securing lives, national pride and prestige and to fight against unbridled violence.