The continuous delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is brewing a social crisis, as a coalition of civil society organisations has fixed February 22nd to stage a national protest.
No fewer than 26 Civil Society Organisations are currently mobilising for the protest, DAILY POST has learnt.
The move according to them is intended to mount further pressure on the presidency to do the needful and sign the amended bill into law.
Some of the prominent CSOs spoiling for a protest 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, CLEEN Foundation, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NNNGO) among others.
Their concerns stem from insinuations that the delay in granting presidential assent to the Electoral Bill, 2022 may create legal uncertainties that will threaten the integrity of the off-cycle elections in Ekiti, Osun, including the 2023 general election, which is only 366 days away.
They are amazed why the President, despite giving assurance that he would sign once the direct primary clause is expunged from the Bill, is still withholding his assent even after the National Assembly has complied with his directive.
They took to a statement on Saturday to state their grievances, saying, “aware that on the 31st January 2022, the National Assembly transmitted the Electoral Bill 2022 to the President for assent after expeditiously reworking the bill to meet the President’s expectations. Also, aware the bill allows electronic transmission of results, strengthens INEC’s financial independence and empowers the commission to reject falsified election results.
“Further aware, the bill, when signed, requires INEC to issue Notice of Election not later than 360 days before the day appointed for an election. Therefore, the President has to give assent to the bill on or before 22nd February 2022 if the dates announced for the 2023 elections are to be maintained.
“The civil society community resolves to declare Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, as the National Day of Protest to demand immediate assent to the bill. Civil society networks will organize peaceful public direct-action activities to further the demand to assent the bill.
“We urge citizens across the nation to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to act on this matter of urgent national importance”.