House of Reps will prioritise electoral reforms – Gbajabiamila

#TrackNigeria: The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos State), says the house will hit the ground in terms of electoral reforms.

Gbajabiamila made the promise while receiving the European Union Election Observer team on Nigeria and ECOWAS in Abuja on Tuesday, a statement by the Speaker’s aide, Mr Smart Lanrewaju, said.

“Nigeria is to always follow International best practices. commend the fact that there has been improvement in Nigerian electoral process but more needs to be done.

“Parliament will hit the ground in terms of electoral reforms as the process of elections is before, during and after the elections.

“Election is the bedrock of any democracy and there is the desire to get the process right,” he said.

The speaker commended EU for the tremendous job done all over the world, particularly in Nigeria.

He said the reeled out recommendation would  be looked into and that parliament would look into how to domesticate the recommendation as laws.

Gbajabiamila expressed gladness for the partnership of the EU  and sought collaboration on e-Parliament which was  one of the intended reforms of the 9th Assembly .

He assured the union of the parliament’s readiness to work closer to achieve the best results possible for the Nigerian people.

He promised to ensure continued  harmonious working relationship between Nigeria and the EU.

Earlier, the head of the delegation, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, said  the EU had a great deal of respect for the parliament of Nigeria.

Karlsen said it was of great importance for continuous engagement between Nigeria’s parliament and the union.

He said  the union would continue to lean on the leadership of parliament to increase the relationship between Nigeria and the EU which was  the biggest development partners of Nigeria.

She said that all member nations of the union were strong individual partners of Nigeria and were determined to ensure that did not suffer negativity while in the partnership.

The head of the delegation said that the union was to continue to support in investment and wealth creation in Nigeria.

“The team has been in Nigeria for a long time before, during and after the elections and the EU  has provided over 100 Million Euros to ensure Nigeria is supported from the angle of the affairs of government, parliament and civil society.

“We seek to the national dialogue and consensus as doing things late can  risk jeopardising the much needed reform process. We also seek more opportunities for mutual development,”  she said.

The Deputy Chief Observer, Ms Hannah Roberts, said that there were improvements relating to elections in Nigeria.

Roberts, however, said that there were still some shortcomings to work on as the union had delivered the final reports with 30 recommendations for reform in  future elections.

She said  it was not practical to leave electoral reforms close to election time as there would be time for proper implementation.

According to her, among the recommendations made, a lot were made in the last election, out of which seven are critical.

“They are, ensuring a more robust way to check results of polls, stronger transparency in voting process, better operational reform on the part of INEC.

“There is also need for more security coordination between the different relevant agencies,” she said.

Roberts said the involvement of women in the electoral process was low as Nigeria seemed  to be at the bottom in female participation in politics in Africa.

The observer said  the Election Tribunals should also cover election processes so that they could be adequately informed when handling petitions after the election process.

She said there was need for improvement of the process used to issue the licenses for media covering election processes in order to get the required divergence (NAN)