Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has said Nigeria should go into the next election with a new law, just as he called on the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari to pass the Electoral Bill so that INEC can hit the ground running towards the 2023 elections.
Jega stated this during a panel discussion at a town hall meeting organised by Yiaga Africa on the passage of the Electoral Amendment Bill, recently.
Jega, who said it is difficult to conduct elections in Nigeria, added that since 2010, there has not been a significant improvement in the electoral framework.
He said while there could be some grey areas in the Electoral Bill that President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to, there are other good things in the bill arguing that the baby should not be thrown away with the bath water.
“I believe Nigeria should go into the next elections with a new law as there are many good things in the bill that will improve the integrity and conduct of elections.
“As I have said earlier, since 2010, we have not had significant improvement in the electoral framework.
“Speaking on direct and indirect primaries, some people believe that governors do influence the outcome of indirect primaries and some feel direct primary is a way out of this, but the question is, how many parties have credible register of members?
“Give INEC the law to begin preparations for the 2023 elections. Any governor that manipulates direct primaries under this present condition will also have the capacity to manipulate indirect primaries.
“What we are saying is that you cannot throw the baby away with the bath water. Let’s think more carefully. The good things in the bill should be signed into law immediately so that INEC can start serious work for the 2023 elections.”
He lamented that the commission has a short period to put a lot of its mechanisms together for the conduct of the elections.
He called on the National Assembly to resolve all issues and give INEC the law within 10 days of resumption to enable it operate it seamlessly for the 2023 elections.
According to him, INEC made 31 recommendations to the amended 2010 Electoral Act to conduct credible elections, but NASS only approved 25 of the recommendations.
“Give INEC the law to begin preparation for 2021. Drop issue of direct and indirect primaries and let’s move forward,” he said. Also speaking, the governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, said the 36 governors are not afraid of direct primary as being alleged by some Nigerians.
Earlier in his welcome address, Yiaga Africa Executive Director, Samson Itodo, explained that the town hall meeting would specifically discuss key provisions of the Electoral Bill and their implications for election management, election security, electoral integrity and voter participation as well as legislative and executive action required to conclude the amendment process.