On November 13, 2021, the National Assembly forwarded the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill to the President for his assent. The President did not assent before he traveled to Turkey, thus truncating the reforms encapsulated in that historic Bill.
There are many innovative provisions in the Bill that makes it attractive as a tool to oil our democratic experiment, especially the issues of electronic transmission of election results and direct primaries for the political parties.
From the events monitored on the floor of the National Assembly and indeed the public hearings conducted, it is clear that Nigerians prefer that results of elections be transmitted electronically by INEC in order to avoid the recurring decimal of manipulation and rigging.
In the same vein, direct primaries for the choice of candidates of political parties will eliminate the hydra-headed issues of godfatherism and imposition of candidates.
Under and by virtue of section 58 (5) of the 1999 Constitution, where the President withholds his assent and a Bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the Bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.
I urge the National Assembly, in the national interest, to invoke its constitutional powers to pass the Electoral Bill and save our democracy from imminent collapse. As the elected representatives of the people, our legislators should act in the interest of their respective constituencies.
Democracy is about the people, so it is essential that politicians who made promises of electoral reforms while canvassing for votes should honour their vows to the people, when they get into office.
Nigerians expect the National Assembly to shake off the toga of being a rubber stamp entity and use this golden opportunity to assert their autonomy.
This matter is important and pressing enough to warrant the suspension of the current recess of the National Assembly for the purpose of passing the Bill and in that wise, override presidential assent.
Nothing is too much to give to salvage our hard-earned democracy.
God bless Nigeria.
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN