As the continuous voter’s registration begins Monday nationwide, Nigerians have demanded an immediate passage of the amended Electoral Act by the National Assembly to save the nation’s democracy from collapse.
They said efforts by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove bottlenecks in the voter’s registration process could only yield the necessary result if the Electoral Act was passed and signed into law to sanitise the electoral system in the country.
They stated this in separate interviews with BusinessDay, Monday, while reacting to the commencement of the continuous voter’s registration.
Though INEC was commended for their innovativeness, the introduction of electronics in the registration process to reduce cumbersomeness encountered in the past, they, however, also said such gains may not bring sanity or reduce fraud associated with elections in Nigeria.
Sanni Yabagi, national chairman of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), said only registrations of voters without a holistic change in the electoral system would not make any difference, adding that it was obvious that the National Assembly was not interested in passing the Electoral Act because they are beneficiaries of the system.
He urged Nigerians to rise and demand passage of the Act for any meaningful change.
According to him, “We should commend INEC for trying to improve the voter’s registration process, however, the problem we have at hand is more than that. Elections are riddled with fraud, violence and manipulation.
“And the thing that can bring some sanity is the Electoral Act, but it has not been passed. Don’t be surprised if it is not passed and signed into law, because these people are beneficiaries of the system. So, it is left for Nigerians, stakeholders to put pressure on them”.
Also, speaking, Seun Soyinka, Director, communication and strategies, Lagos4Lagos, said that the passage of the Electoral Act was the first step in reforming the electoral system if INEC was sincere about conducting credible elections in Nigeria.
He, however, expressed doubt in the ability of the current administration to improve the electoral system.
“You can register to vote, but the question is after voting would your vote count? Would the process not be manipulated? What about violence? These are the issues the Electoral Act seeks to address and I think if this is not resolved we are just moving in a circle”.
But Tunde Daramola, former National Executive Committee (NEC) member of the People’s Democratic Party and Lagos State chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), said the problem with elections in Nigeria was beyond the Electoral Act, adding that the country needed reconstruction and a new constitution.
“All sectors of Nigeria are in need of reconstruction. The Electoral Act is just a small part of the problem; we need a new constitution, the entire arrangement needs reconstruction; the component parts need to sit and agree on a workable part to lead the country where power is devolved to each component part of the country.
“Passage of the Electoral Act by the National Assembly is good but is that the solution? Would that yield any result”?