After years of back and forth between the Executive and the National Assembly with regards to signing a new electoral amendment act. President Muhammadu Buhari, finally assented to the reworked Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022, declaring that the new legislation is aimed at revolutionalizing elections in Nigeria.
In line with established tradition, the signing ceremony was witnessed by the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and current Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi. Other Principal Officers of the National Assembly as well as top cabinet members and Presidency aides also witnessed the epoch-making ceremony.
Following the development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has summoned an emergency meeting in Abuja, which would hold today to discuss the implementation of the new law.
National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, who disclosed this in a statement, described the development as historic, noting that it was the fourth time since the restoration of democracy in Nigeria that the Electoral Act was repealed and re-enacted.
According to him, the new law contains many progressive provisions that would facilitate the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
“The nation now has the Electoral Act 2022, which replaces the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). Together with the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the new Act constitutes the principal law to govern the conduct of future elections, including the 2023 general election.
“Given the tight timelines contained in the new law, the Commission fully appreciates the importance of proceeding with their implementation in earnest. Consequently, an extraordinary meeting of the Commission is scheduled for tomorrow Saturday, February 26, 2022. Thereafter, a statement will be issued on the way forward,” he said.
Earlier, INEC’s Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Victor Aluko, urged Nigerians to expect the best from the commission as the 2023 general election draw closer.
“We had looked forward to this day. The signing of the Electoral Act gives a form of certainty to the legal framework for the 2023 general elections. Now there is a certainty and we can at least go ahead and do the needful.
“The Nigerian people should expect the best from INEC. They should expect free, fair and credible elections. INEC as an institution would always gives its best as we have always. The Nigerian people deserve elections that are very credible and we will give them that,” Aluko said.
The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2022, passed by the National Assembly was forwarded for presidential assent via a letter dated January 31, 2022. Signing the document, President Buhari noted that the current Electoral Act comes with a great deal of improvement from the previous Electoral Bill 2021.
He said there are salient and praiseworthy provisions that could positively revolutionize elections in Nigeria through the introduction of new technological innovations.
President Buhari noted that the innovations would guarantee the constitutional rights of citizens to vote and to do so effectively. According to the President, the Act would also improve and engender clarity, effectiveness, and transparency of the election process, as well as reduce to the barest minimum incidences of acrimony arising from dissatisfied candidates and political parties.
He said the commendable efforts were in line with the policy of the administration to bequeath posterity and landmark legal framework that paves the way for credible and sound electoral process that all Nigerians be proud of.