Civil society organisations said they have perfected plans to mobilise Nigerians across the country to occupy the National Assembly complex in Abuja over the silence of lawmakers to pass the Electoral Amendment Bill.
The groups said that the possibility of passing the bill this year was slim going by the silence of the National Assembly particularly the Senate, which had earlier committed to a 2020 passage of the legislation through a repeal and re-enactment procedure.
At a press briefing jointly addressed by Co-Convener, Center for Liberty, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, Convener, Raising New Voices, Jude Feranmi, and a representative of YIAGA Africa, Paul James, on Monday in Abuja, the groups said Nigerians would be embarking on a nationwide protest to demand the passage of the bill.
The coalition added that over 20,000 Nigerians had signed the petition for electoral reforms, thereby reiterating the need for the realisation of the December 2020 timeframe in delivering this new Electoral Act.
Ariyo while speaking at the event said, “The people of Nigeria are now apprehensive that this 9th Assembly could just be allowing partisanship to creep in and delay the passage of the bill since the battle for 2023 is already gathering momentum.
“Consequently, the call is fast growing for Occupy National Assembly by the people and this could just be the time for Nigerians to march on the Assembly complex to demand the quick passage of the Electoral Bill.
“In the days ahead, Nigerians will be protesting to the National Assembly to make known their concerns and disappointment.
“With the number of stakeholders and the general populace keenly interested in this bill because it’s a light in the tunnel for election processes in Nigeria, citizens will have no other choice than to continually push for the passage of this bill.”
On his own part, Feranmi said the best way for the National Assembly to avert another nationwide protest like that of #EndSARS was to expedite action in the quick passage of the bill.
He said, “We need the Senate and House of Representatives to understand how important and how critical this bill is to the peace of our country and future of our democracy.
“The electoral reforms we have been calling for and amendment bill that our organisations are proposing are reforms that will give the Nigerian people the impression that you can change your country democratically.
“They have given us a timeline before that by the end of 2020 it will be passed but now they are saying something different. If our representatives don’t want another episode of #ENDSARS then they need to take this as serious as it is.”
The groups expressed regret and disappointment with the action of Senate President, Lawan Ahmed, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, for not giving adequate consideration to the passage of the most important bill since 2019.
They added that elections remained the most fundamental aspect of democracy across the world, its evolution and improvement can only be measured in terms of processes, procedures, technology and outcome.
“While it is noteworthy that the National Assembly has already commenced work on the Electoral Amendment Bill, we have more than enough reason to believe that the process has not been given the urgency, seriousness and attention that it deserves,” the group stated.