Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, says it may be forced to postpone the 2023 elections if President Muhammadu Buhari fails to assent to the reworked Electoral Act Amendment Bill by Tuesday.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this in an interview with Sunday Vanguard.
According to him, there are some fundamental timelines in the new electoral bill that will fundamentally affect the electoral legal framework.
Sunday Vanguard recalls that on November 23, 2021, Buhari declined assent to the bill, citing insecurity, cost of conducting direct primaries and infringement on the rights of Nigerians as his reasons.
The rejection was conveyed in letters written to the National Assembly.
He also said the decision was based on informed advice by relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government, and a careful review of the bill in light of the current realities in Nigeria.
The bill was thereafter reworked by the National Assembly and passed on January 25, 2022, for presidential assent.
Specifically, the lawmakers amended controversial Clause 84 of the bill, which deals with the mode of primary election to be used by political parties.
In the previous version, lawmakers had prescribed that political parties use only the direct mode of primary. But it was made optional in the reworked bill sent to the President for assent.
However, the bill, which was forwarded on January 31, 2022, is yet to receive presidential assent, raising concerns over the likely consequences should Buhari reject it again.
Speaking on the matter, Okoye said, “We understand that on January 31, 2022, the reworked Electoral Act Amendment Bill was forwarded to the President. Under Section 58 of the Constitution, the President has been given the right to assent to bills within 30 days. The 30 days have not elapsed.
“As an electoral management body, we have done our part and it is now left for the National Assembly and the executive to do their part so that the country can have a new legal regime to operate on.
“The tenure of the President and that of the governors (except Anambra, Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun states) will expire on the 28th day of May 2023 while members of the national and state assemblies will stand dissolved on the 8th day of June 2023.
“By Sections 132(1) and 178(1) of the Constitution, the Commission is empowered to appoint a date for the holding of presidential, governorship, national and state assembly elections.
“INEC had already fixed February 18, 2023, as the date for the presidential election in Nigeria. Now, if you calculate that particular date from today ( last Thursday), it gives you 365 days to that particular election.
“The worrying aspect in this whole impasse is the fact that the new bill before the President contains very far-reaching timelines that will fundamentally affect the date for the election.
“Under Section 28 of the new bill, the Commission is mandated and under a constitutional and legal obligation to issue the notice for the election within 360 days and that is remaining just five days from today.
“The implication is that if the bill is not signed into law thereafter, the Commission has to shift the date for the presidential election to accommodate the 360 days given on the new bill for issuing the notice of the election.”
The INEC Chief, however, assured that the commission had been permitted by law to orbit around Sections 132(2) and 178(2) of the Constitution in fixing the date for elections so long as the dates remain within the 150 days and 30 days provided in the Constitution.
Okoye said: “In other words, the earliest date for the holding of election into executive positions is 30th of December 2022 while the last date is 29th of April 2023.
“For legislative elections, the earliest date is January 10, 2023, and the last date is 10th of May 2023.
“The Commission takes into consideration the possibility of a second election or runoff election in fixing dates for the conduct of elections. Section 58(4) of the Constitution gives the President 30 days to signify that he assents to or that he withholds his assent to a bill.
“The Commission is in good standing in relation to the dates for the holding of the 2023 general elections but is in support of expeditious resolution of the issues surrounding the Bill.”
Meanwhile, outrage trailed the development as eminent Nigerians and groups urged Buhari to sign the amended electoral bill to avoid a political crisis.
A former Second Vice President, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Monday Ubani, described the 2010 Electoral Act as outdated but cautioned against postponing the 2023 elections.
His words: ”It will be very disastrous if the elections are postponed because our Constitution has a tenure of four years for every elective office. So, it will be improper to elongate the tenure of any officer. Therefore, the President must not create a crisis for the country unless he has an agenda he is pursuing. I agree with INEC on the non-workability of the 2010 Electoral Act, which is outdated.
“The President should sign the bill into law so that the country can utilize the new provisions added in the bill. I think the right thing to do is for the President to sign that bill into law.”
On his part, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, described the possibility of postponing the polls as “dangerous, foreboding and constitutional conundrum.”
Also reacting, Secretary-General, Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, said: “Whatever INEC does has to align with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and I am sure there are specific dates and period the elections have to be held, nobody or institution has the right to extend the life of any administration. So, the postponement will still be within the period allowed by the Constitution. INEC does not have the power to extend the tenure of the present administration or any administration for that matter.
“Nigerians want Mr. President to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for obvious reasons.’’
Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, warned that the time-table for the next elections should not be altered.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jare Ajayi, said: “The Electoral Act Amendment Bill being delayed by the executive is indicative of the slow pace with which government treats issues that have to do with Nigerians.
“The Electoral Act Bill has been on the table for a long time. Why is the President delaying it?
Under no circumstances should the election time-table be altered.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill and ensure that INEC has the necessary support to ensure that we have – free, fair and credible elections”
President of the African Bar Association, AfBA, Hannibal Uwaifo, said: “If the President fails to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill, he has no excuse for doing so. Whether the President signs it or not, whether INEC postpones the election or not, the President has until May 29 to vacate office. I believe the President has the responsibility to sign the Electoral Act Amdendment Bill. If he fails, the National Assembly has the prerogative and constitutional right to override him.’’
President of Association of South East Town Unions, ASETU, Emeka Diwe, on his part, said:”It is a dubious, deliberate and dangerous step to scuttle Nigeria’s democracy. That is the summary.”
Meanwhile, 26 Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, yesterday, declared February 22, 2022, a national day of protest following the delay in granting assent to the bill.
The CSOs are Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Yiaga Africa, Partners for Electoral Reform, PER, International Press Centre, Institute for Media and Society, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, The Albino Foundation, Centre for Citizens with Disability, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ, Labour Civil Society Coalition, LASCO, Transition Monitoring Group and CLEEN Foundation.
Others are Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre ,CISLAC, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, WARDC, Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations ,NNNGO, Inclusive Friends Association , IFA, Enough is Enough, The Electoral Hub, Centre for Liberty, Take Back Nigeria Movement, International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre, IPCRC, 100 Women Lobby Group, Women in Politics Forum, Raising New Voices, Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa and Ready To Lead Africa.
This was disclosed in a statement they jointly signed.
Muslim-Muslim ticket: No leader can Islamise Nigeria, says FFK
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Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, says he has “prayed about” the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and is sure that the country cannot be Islamised.
Indeed, he expressed confidence that those given the ticket currently to fly the flag of the APC in the 2023 presidential election would defend the rights of the Christans.
Bola Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate, picked Kashim Shettima, the former governor of Borno, who is also a Muslim, as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election.
This has generated heavy criticisms from key stakeholders, particularly the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Before joining the APC, Fani-Kayode, on several occasions, had accused the APC-led Federal Government of Islamisation and Fulanisation of the country.
Asked to comment on the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket in the light of his previous comments, the former minister said since he joined the ruling party, he had realised that the party had “completely changed”, adding that the claim of Fulanisation of the country had been thrown out of the window.
Fani-Kayode said it is not about the faith of the presidential candidates but their individual abilities.
He said, “We spoke about Fulanisation; that has been thrown out of the window now because power has been shifted to the South by the APC, the party we accused of that.
“Secondly, we spoke about Islamisation. Since I joined APC, I realised that, like I said earlier, things have completely changed; a situation whereby in this country today we have, no less than 20 Christian governors. The whole of the South-West has Christian governors, except for Osun State, which has now changed because we have a Christian governor who is coming in.
“A situation like that tells you clearly that the country cannot be Islamised and neither is our party APC interested in that. What is happening as far as I’m concerned is this: we have reformed and are moving forward.
“Same faith ticket was a challenge but we looked into it. I prayed about it, I consulted, I spoke to Kashim because all along my position has been – it all depends who the vice-president is.
“It is not about the faith. It is about the individual and if the individual is a Muslim that I can live with, I’m prepared to live with that. I spoke to this man and Tinubu.
“The candidate himself returned schools to the missionaries in Lagos something that had not been done before. The candidate gave land to so many of these mega churches in Lagos when he was governor and since that time they have been granted licences to build churches.
“Go to the North; the vice, that is Shettima himself, I met him for over three hours, we discussed. I looked into the man’s eyes and raised a number of pertinent questions which I needed to be satisfied with and I was satisfied with his answers.
“He has built more churches in Borno State than any other before him and since that time and he won the confidence of many Christians. So the issue of Islamisation no longer arises.”
Bode George attacks Tinubu again, says everything him is bundle of lies
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Bode George, has attacked the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, saying everything about him is a “bundle of lies.”
He said Tinubu did nothing to alleviate the pains of residents of Lagos State while serving as a governor for two terms.
George spoke with Channels Television last night, saying, “I absolutely have no qualms, no quarrel with Tinubu; but all I know is that everything he has said he was or his name is this or his school is that, it’s a bundle of lies.
“I’m a bona fide Lagosian. We knew what Lagos was like, and Lagos remains the commercial nerve centre, not only in Nigeria but in the whole of West Africa. What has this fellow done to us?”
He challenged Tinubu to open up on the ownership of Alpa Beta company.
He said the APC presidential candidate should tell Nigerians how much the company had allegedly stolen from the Lagos State Government.
He said, “I have asked a very simple question and none of them has been able to answer it. Who owns the Alpha Beta company? How much has the Alpha Beta company stolen from the coffers of our treasury in Lagos State? What has he done to alleviate the pains of the people of the state?”
2023: E-Transmission Of Election Results Has Come To Stay – INEC
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Wednesday promised that the results of the 2023 general elections would be transmitted electronically.
There have been calls by stakeholders that the deployment of technology in the country’s electoral processes be enhanced to address hitches witnessed in previous elections.
It was against this backdrop that the Electoral Act was amended by the National Assembly. President Muhammadu Buhari had, on February 25, assented to the Election Act 2022 after its passage by the National Assembly.
One of the key provisions of the law is the deployment of technology in the electoral process.
Section 52(2) of the Act says: “Subject to Section 63 of this bill, voting at an election and transmission of results under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission (INEC), which may include electronic voting.”
Speaking on Wednesday in Abuja when he hosted a delegation of Media Trust Group (owners of Daily Trust newspapers and Trust TV) on election debate, the INEC boss said going forward, the electoral body would transmit election results electronically.
Media Trust Group is organising a series of debates for presidential and governorship candidates ahead of the next year’s general elections, dubbed ‘Media Trust Nigeria Election Debate 2023’.
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Yakubu, told the delegation that the transmission of elections results from the polling units (PUs) would be a permanent feature in the nation’s electoral processes.
“Yes, it is going to be permanent in all elections conducted by the commission going forward. But I wish to draw your attention to the fact that we did not start the electronic transmission, at least, from the polling units to the IReV Portal, in Anambra or FCT elections.
“It was actually on August 2020 that we deployed that for the Nasarawa Central State Constituency by-election, the first election conducted under COVID-19. So, if you look at the IReV Portal, you could see all the results from the 2020 to the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and all the other by-elections we conducted,” Yakubu said.
What INEC learnt from Kenyan presidential poll
On lessons learnt from the just-concluded Kenyan presidential election, Yakubu said that the INEC had received a letter from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya that it wanted to deploy the Kenya Integration Election Management System (KIEMS) and that it was going to transmit polling unit level results to the collation centre. KIEMS is the equivalent of the Nigeria’s Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
He said like Nigeria, the transmitted results were collated manually.
He also noted that Nigeria’s BIVAS is a significant improvement on the Kenya’s system because in Nigeria, the collations have to pass through several stages from the polling units to the ward level, to the local governments and the states before reaching the national portal for the presidential election.
This, Yakubu said, allows agents of all political parties and candidates to observe the collation process at all stages, unlike in Kenya where results go straight to the national portal.
The INEC chairman also said that while Nigeria learnt from the 2017 Kenyan elections, the Kenyans had also learnt a lot from the conduct of the 2019 and 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
He said the collation of results was faster in Kenya possibly due to the fewer numbers of polling units and registered voters compared to the larger number of same in Nigeria.
On pending by-elections, the INEC boss said that there were 27 pending by-elections across the country.
He said the commission would conduct the elections pending when court cases and insecurity in some of the affected constituencies were resolved.
Speaking further, Yakubu said the INEC would support the Media Trust Group’s debates in order to deepen issue-based politicking ahead of the 2023 elections.
According to him, there are other debates and more expected to be conducted ahead of the 2023 elections.
He, however, said that the commission would be watching all the debates like other Nigerians.
Daily Trust reports that for four months, three Senate seats: Borno North, Nasarawa West and Zamfara Central Senatorial Districts have been vacant following the resignation of the occupants, including the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu; Senator Abubakar Kyari and Senator Muhammad Hassan Nasiha.
The Media Trust Group delegation, including the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Mallam Mounir Haliru Gwarzo, was led by the MTG’s Election Debate Committee Chairman, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim.
Ibrahim had earlier said that the visit was to seek the support and participation of the INEC in the coming debates and other activities to promote and sustain issue-based politics and campaigns in Nigeria.
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