…Wants NASS to reflect citizens’ wish
A group, ReclaimNaija Grassroots Network, comprising grassroots community development and professional associations across the country, has called for the deployment of science and technology in the conduct of elections in the country, urging the inclusion of electronic transmission of election results in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.
In a letter addressed to members of the National Assembly (NASS) Joint Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters, the network also enjoined the assembly members to ensure that the outcome of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill reflect the desire of Nigerians for free, fair and credible elections, saying, “the Nigerian citizens have, over the years, constantly expressed their desire for an electoral act that safeguards electoral integrity, free and fair elections in the country.
“We want an Electoral Act that puts an end to electoral fraud and malpractices. The Electoral Act must protect the mandate of Nigerian citizens and make sure that their votes count.
“It should also be one that ensures a level-playing ground for citizens and not one that favours the socio-economically privileged sections of the society. All these were expressed in the recent public hearings and consultations carried out by NASS.
“We are, therefore, gravely concerned to hear that there are attempts to introduce into the Electoral Bill 2021 clauses that undermine electoral integrity and the expressed will of Nigerian citizens, whose interests the legislators are supposed to be upholding in the National Assembly,” the group said.
The group called on all well-meaning Nigerians to demand the following: The electronic transmission of results from the polling units and reject any attempt to endorse manual transmission of results as well as reject the attempt to astronomically increase the limit for campaign expenses, saying it would deprive disadvantaged groups such as women, youths, persons with disability and low-income earners the right to contest for public offices.
It counseled that campaign expenses be pegged at as follows: N1 billion maximum for a presidential candidate; N200 million maximum for a gubernatorial candidate; N40 million maximum for a senatorial candidate; N30 million maximum for a House of Representatives candidates; and N10 million maximum for State House of Assembly candidates.
Arguing on the need to empower INEC on review of election, ReclaimNaija Grassroots Network said the bill should be amended to give INEC the power to review declaration of results that are inconsistent with the electoral laws and guidelines, or made under duress, adding without such powers for INEC, the National Assembly would be encouraging unscrupulous elements who threaten election officials to declare false results.
“As grassroots citizens who are already socio-economically disadvantaged and marginalised from active political participation, we urge members of the National Assembly not to take any steps to produce an electoral act that would further worsen our situation.
“Ideally, it is to members of the National Assembly that citizens, like us, should rely on to ensure that our aspirations and interests are protected. Please, do the needful,” the network added.