[From BONIFACE OKORO, Umuahia]
Politicians from political platforms have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for giving his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 into law.
Buhari, after rejecting the first amendment, had signed the reworked Electoral Act Amendment Bill on Friday, February 25, 2022.
Abia politicians, who reacted to the President’s signing of the bill, commended him for having the courage to sign the bill and expressed hope that it would redefine Nigeria’s electoral process and its outcomes.
A chieftain of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia State, Sir Chikwe Udensi, applauded Buhari for signing the reworked bill into law Bill, saying it would end the era of concocted election results that come with bloated figures even where apathy was glaring.
In particular, Udensi said it would mark the end of alleged bloated figures from Obingwa local government area of the state.
It would be recalled that when the Independent National Electoral Commission ordered a rerun in few local government areas of Abia State in 2015, whopping 82, 000 votes were returned from Obingwa local government to give Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party victory in the governorship chase.
The reworked Electoral Act Amendment Act 2022, among other things, provides for electronic transmission of election results from polling units, thereby making it difficult for manipulation of figures.
Udensi noted that the new Act would bring more credibility to the country’s electoral system.
“Even though that is not all that is required, it is a step in the right direction,” Udensi, a governorship aspirant said, commending the leadership of the National Assembly for their resilience in ensuring that the country gets enhanced legal framework to go into the 2023 elections.
Commenting on the signing of the bill by President Buhari, the member representing Umuahia North/Umuahia South/Ikwuano Federal Constituency of Abia State, Hon. Sam Onuigbo, congratulated Mr. President, describing him as “a defender of transparent democracy.”
According to Onuigbo, the Act has strengthened Nigeria’s democracy, adding that it was a victory for democracy and for the country.
Onuigbo said history would always remember President Buhari for proving that he championed the entrenchment of sustainable democratic ideals by signing the Bill into law, despite “frantic and clandestine forces which fought to stop it.”
In a statement on Saturday, the lawmaker said the new Electoral Act was a demonstration of President Buhari’s commitment which he also showed when he signed the Climate Change Bill which he (Onuigbo) sponsored, despite opposition.
He also lauded the National Assembly for working hard to ensure that a legal framework that would entrench transparency in the country’s electoral system was achieved.
“This is reminiscent of Mr. President’s dogged commitment that saw him sign the Climate Change Bill which I sponsored into law, despite stiff opposition too. In both cases, President Buhari demonstrated an unwavering determination to place the interests of the country above every other thing. History will be kind to him.
“In a democracy, the most credible and reliable way of enthroning leadership is through a credible and transparent electoral process.
“Therefore there is need for a credible electoral legal framework. Aware of this, we, at the National Assembly had worked so hard to ensure that critical inclusions that will strengthen our electoral processes are enshrined in the Act. I am happy that today, our democracy has been strengthened by the signing of this Act.
“The National Assembly, led by the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, deserves commendation for working tirelessly to address the areas of conflict that initially stalled the signing of the Bill right from the 8th Assembly.
“It was important that those areas were addressed without compromising the integrity and transparency of our electoral process.
“In the same vein, I commend the Civil Society and Nigerians in general for championing the process and mounting the necessary pressure. This is a victory for democracy and also a victory for the country,” Onuigbo said.
Also, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, said by signing the Bill into law, President Buhari has demonstrated his commitment to the advancement of the nation’s democracy and commended the President for his patriotism..
Kalu, in a statement signed by his media office, said President Buhari has proven to Nigerians that he was a committed democrat and a reliable leader with the much-sought Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and now the Electoral Act Amendment Bill signed into laws.
He congratulated the president while appreciating his patriotism and visionary leadership style of always projecting maturity and wisdom in national discourse, and providing a rallying point for the future of the country.
“These laws,” he said, “would definitely put the country on the right footing for economic and political development.”
“President Muhammadu Buhari has proven to Nigerians that he is a committed leader whose love for the nation’s democratic development and advancement is never in doubt,” the statement added.
Similarly, another governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abia State, Dr. Chidia Maduekwe, has expressed his gratitude to President Buhari for signing the reworked Electoral Act Amendment Bill of 2022.
Dr. Chidia Maduekwe who is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), while appreciating President Buhari, also lauded the members and leadership of the 9th National Assembly, describing their legislative efforts towards the newly signed bill as historical to the democratic process of the nation.
Taking to his official twitter handle (@DrCMaduekwe), he stated that with the Presidential assent, the new electoral law would further entrench confidence of the people in the nation’s electoral system.
According to the NFC boss, Nigerians, especially Abians, should ensure that they register and get their permanent voters card, stressing that with the new Electoral Act, they can be rest assured that their votes would count.
He added that with the new Electoral law, subsequent elections in the country would strengthen the electoral processes and also reflect the true mandate of Nigerians. He expressed optimism that the law would address the loopholes and challenges in the electoral system.
“Our nation has recorded a milestone achievement through the signing of a new Electoral Act, I want to specially thank Mr. President, the 9th National Assembly and other Nigerians who worked tirelessly to see that our nation’s elections gets an enhancement.”
“The areas addressed in the new Electoral law include the conduct of party primaries, campaign funding, deployment of technological devices in elections and electronic transmission of results, among other areas that would ensure the credibility of elections in the country.
“With this new law Abians now have the power to put in a new Government that will end their sufferings, the people of our dear nation, especially Abia state, will be reassured that their votes will count.
“I urge everyone to go get their permanent voters card and ensure that they vote for the right persons to lead them,” Maduekwe wrote.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Friday signed the reworked Electoral Bill into law. He declined assent to the bill transmitted to him by the Senator Bukola Saraki-led 8th Assembly.
However, when the 9th National Assembly first transmitted the amended bill to the President, he rejected it on the grounds that it had direct primaries as the only option for political parties to choose candidates. It was, however, reworked and three additional options of direct, indirect primaries and consensus were included.