From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
A coalition of election monitoring groups under the aegis of the Coalition of Election Monitors and Observers (CEMO) has said it is already late for President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amended Electoral Act 2022, as political parties have already commenced their primaries.
Consequently, the coalition after a meeting in Abuja said in as much as the amendment is desirable, signing it at this point will be counter-productive.
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National Convener of the coalition, Idris Yabu, who presented the report of the election monitors to journalists, implored President Buhari to return the amendment bill to the National Assembly for further legislative works against future elections.
Yabu noted that President Buhari ought to have signed the bill earlier to give political parties a uniform direction for the nomination of candidates for the 2023 general elections. He added that assenting to the amendment now would be tantamount to “changing the rules in the middle of the game and disjointing the entire electoral process”.
According to him “After a very extensive review and consultations on the issue, we submit that the amendments sought to Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022, as desirable as they may be, have been overtaken by events leading to the 2023 general elections.
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“It is instructive to note that political parties, especially the two major political parties in Nigeria have already started the electoral processes under the timelines, schedules and rules prescribed by the provisions of the extant Electoral Act 2022.
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“More importantly, it must be noted that political parties have already structured their timetables, sold nomination forms, screened aspirants, conducted congresses, elected delegates, with major parties already holding primaries and candidates already emerging under the rules provided for in the current Electoral Act, 2022.
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“In this regard, any alteration or amendment to the Electoral Act, at this moment, will amount to changing the rules in the middle of the game. Such will be “dangerous and counter-productive to our democratic process. It will trigger widespread political crisis and result in litigations that can derail the 2023 general elections.
“Our observation shows that political parties, aspirants and the electorate have already adjusted to the current provision of Section 84 of the Electoral Act. Candidates are already peacefully emerging. Any alteration at this moment has the propensity of dislocating the current political tranquility in the country and disrupt the entire electoral process.
“CEMO therefore urges President Muhammadu Buhari to save the nation from a serious political crisis at this moment by returning the Amendment Bill to the National Assembly for reprocessing for future elections.
“CEMO also urges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to advice Mr. President in this direction to avoid political crisis and ensure the smooth conduct of the 2023 general elections”.