Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega, has warned the National Assembly against overriding President Muhammadu Buhari over the stalemate on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
Jega issued the warning on Sunday in Abuja during a Citizens’ Town Hall meeting on Electoral Bill 2021 organised by Yiaga Africa and development partners.
President Muhammadu Buhari had declined assent to the bill last year December.
In his letter to the national Assembly, the President explained that he reject the bill due to high cost of conducting direct primaries, the security challenge of monitoring the shadow polls, violation of citizens’ rights, marginalisation of political parties, likely litigation and manipulation of the exercise.
However, many Nigerians have called on the national assembly to override his veto.
Speaking on at the event, the former INEC Chair noted that since 2010, Nigeria has no substantive improvement on electoral laws, while in the 2021 Electoral Bill, there were a lot of substantive things.
Jega said, “With the way the provisions of the bill stand, the National Assembly should do the needful, rather than contemplating overriding the President by removing the contentious provisions.”
He said that the Electoral Act Amendment Bill contained quite a lot of good things that could enhance electoral integrity.
According to him, what was key was to give INEC the law to improve ahead of the 2023 general election and also the off-season elections before the 2023 polls.
He said, “The challenge is what the National Assembly introduced in the Electoral Bill which is without serious contemplation. It is very important that we have a lot of legal framework.
“I think clearly that the electoral process would have better integrity if we do direct primaries appropriately.
“Any governor that manipulates direct primaries can also manipulate the primaries indirectly.”
He also said that INEC made 31 recommendations to the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act to conduct credible elections, but the National Assembly only approved 25 of the recommendations.