Former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has advised members of the Joint Conference Committee of the National Assembly to move fast in considering the different versions of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill passed by both chambers and let their decisions be guided only by national interest.
Saraki in a statement by the head of his Media Office, Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that the harmonization of the versions of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill and its eventual passage should be concluded on time so as to enable the law to be assented to before the political process leading to the 2023 general elections takes off in full gear.
He added that the success of the next round of elections will depend on the existence of a new enabling law which also have relevant provisions that can guarantee a credible, free, fair and peaceful process.
“That is why it is important that members of the Conference Committee should strive hard to rise above partisan and personal considerations. They should take decisions solely based on national interest and the need to strengthen our electoral process. The country is bigger than our various political parties. Nigeria is even bigger than any individual or any loyalty we may have to an individual.
“That is why members of the committee should give genuine and deep consideration to the delicate issue of adopting the provision on electronic transmission of results which will help to strengthen our electoral process, deepen our democracy and improve the level of participation in the elections.
“Your assignment is very crucial to the future of our country and if through your work we get a good law that will help in reforming the political process, you will be completing a great circle in the building of a legacy. It is a circle that started when the immediate past National Assembly passed the same bill and only failed to get presidential assent because of the politics of the period.
“I want to remind members of the respective hallowed and honourable chambers that at this point in our national history we cannot fail to seize the opportunity that this bill presents to us to enthrone a credible and transparent electoral process. Whatever you do as you consider this bill is your own role in making history, in saving our democracy and building a future that is stable and progressive, where elected leaders truly represent the interest of the people.
“It should be noted that even after leaving the National Assembly, I have consistently canvassed the need for us to quickly pass a new Electoral Act that will include important provisions aimed at developing our electoral system. On one occasion in September 2020, during a webinar conference on ‘Electoral Reforms and Democracy’ organised by Centre for Advancement of Civil Liberties, I called on Nigerians to continue to create awareness on the importance of the Bill ahead of the 2023 elections
“At this point I need to appreciate the efforts of young people across the country who went round spending their time and resources to create events aimed at generating awareness on the Bill, all members of the National Assembly who have made sacrifices to get us this far, various development partners, Civil Society Groups, members of the press and and other stakeholders who played different roles in getting the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill to the semi-final stage where it is almost getting to the point of becoming an effective Act of Parliament. We must continue to improve our system until we achieve the real objective of ‘One Man, One Vote’ and where the votes of the electorate count”, Saraki stated.