Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Taking a look at the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018




The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 has been the subject of much controversy in the past few months in Nigeria. Elections in Nigeria are conducted based on the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the prevailing Electoral Act and INEC Guidelines. As there are under 5 months to go till the 2019 General Elections, many stakeholders are keenly interested in the Electoral Act because it forms the foundation for the conduct of elections in the country. However there have been several issues which have resulted in the current situation where there is currently no signed Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018. Even though the 2019 General elections could still be conducted credibly with the 2015 Electoral Act it is important to trace the trajectory of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 to understand why there has been so much controversy surrounding the Bill and also to ask questions about the reasons for certain actions and inactions.

This document aims to provide a chronological account of the journey of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018. It also seeks to get answers for several observed discrepancies.  

Kindly click the link below to access this document: 


Monday, 10 September 2018

PRESS STATEMENT – MARCH TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TO DEMAND THAT THE ENTIRE BUDGET FOR THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS IS APPROVED ON OR BEFORE 18TH SEPTEMBER 2018





#passthe2019electionsbudgetnow



Press STATEMENT – MARCH TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TO DEMAND THAT THE ENTIRE BUDGET FOR THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS IS APPROVED ON OR BEFORE 18TH SEPTEMBER 2018
-          10th SEPTEMBER 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Election Monitor has issued two press statements (16th and 30th August 2018) shedding light on the implications of delaying the passage of the 2019 Nigerian General Elections. With just 159 days to go till the first set of elections slated for 16th February 2019, Election Monitor and The Movement for Transparent Elections is acutely concerned alongside many Nigerians that the budget for the General Elections is yet to be passed despite the fact that the request for it was submitted two months ago.

It’s quite unfortunate and completely unacceptable that the National Assembly is even considering postponing its resumption till the second week in October 2018 because its members are going to take part in political party primaries. What's the logic in going for primaries and refusing to conclusively approve the budget for the same election they wish to participate it in?

Nigerians need to ask the following questions:

  • ·         Why is it taking so long for the National Assembly to pass the 2019 General Elections budget? 
  • ·         What are the implications of further delay in passing the budget?
  • ·   Since the elections kicked off on the 17th August 2018, why is the National Assembly not considering the budget for the security agencies as well?


It is very clear that there is no urgency to pass the budget for the 2019 General Elections despite the political party primary window has been open for 3 weeks. Election Monitor wants to remind all members of the National Assembly that they were elected to serve in the best interest of Nigerians. INEC has an approved Election Project Plan (EPP) which guides it in effective election implementation. With the current and proposed delays it would be arduous if at all possible to meet all necessary benchmarks within the required timelines. Therefore there must be no further delay! The current intentional delay of approving the general elections budget is precarious for the peace and stability of Nigeria.

Election Monitor and The Movement for Transparent Elections is calling on all well meaning Nigerians to come out for a peaceful march to the National Assembly by 8am on Thursday 13th September 2018 to demand that the 2019 General Elections budget is passed on or before the 18th September 2018. Take off point is Unity Fountain Abuja.

The Dress Code is white with a touch of green (green cap, hat etc). You should bring a Nigerian flag (any size is ok) as well if you can get one.

Kindly watch the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdGs8L_qgJI&feature=youtu.be or search #passthe2019electionsbudgetnow on YouTube.

The Movement for Transparent Elections warns that if there is further delay in passing and releasing the 2019 Elections budget beyond the 18th September 2018, then we would call on Nigerians from all walks of life to embark on sustained protests daily and simultaneously nationwide until the whole election budget is passed and released to INEC.

It is germane to remember that Nigeria is greater than any individual or group of persons.   Those that feel that they are greater than Nigeria should remember that there is a day of reckoning for everyone.

We want all Nigerians to know that our nation will triumph and overcome every agenda and attempt to truncate the hard-fought democracy so many have paid the ultimate price for. The people shall prevail!

Long live Nigeria!!!

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Signed

Abiodun Ajijola
Convener

Thursday, 30 August 2018

PRESS STATEMENT – URGENT NEED TO FUND THE 2019 NIGERIAN GENERAL ELECTIONS




 30th August 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Exactly two weeks ago (Thursday 16th August, 2018) Election Monitor issued a press statement shedding light on the implications of delaying the passage of the budget for the 2019 Nigerian General Elections. INEC issued the Notice of the 2019 General Elections on Friday 17th August, 2018 essentially kickstarting the 2019 General Elections. It is important to note that election is a process and not an event. The sum of the electoral process is the quality of any election. Therefore it is absurd that elections have already commenced and no budget has been approved for the elections and clearly there seems to be no urgency to do so.

Election Monitor is perturbed and very worried that the National Assembly has failed to pass the INEC budget since the request for virement and supplementary input to the 2018 budget was made (11th July 2018) and read on the Senate floor (17th July 2018). What this means is that the budget request has spent one and a half months with the NASS without being conclusively acted upon (approved for release). The argument that the budget input came in late does not defend delaying the passage of the budget for any reason moral or political because Nigeria’s sustained democracy is greater than the interest of any person or group of persons.

The window to conduct political party primaries is already open and INEC has no budget to monitor these primaries which has implications in the future if these primaries are held without being monitored, especially in the event of disputed primaries.

It would be negligent to describe the current situation as normal just because the effects of the current delay of passage of the INEC budget have not yet been felt. No responsible government should wait until there is a full blown crisis to take corrective and preemptive actions when there are clearly ominous signs ahead if the current trajectory is maintained.  

While conducting elections is based on the electoral laws, Nigerians should remember that smart card readers have been used to conduct just under two hundred elections since the 2015 Nigerian General Elections. Some of these elections have been disputed and all possible legal options have been taken, yet none have had their results invalidated as a result of the existing Electoral Act 2010 (amended) despite the smart card readers were used in all these elections. Therefore equating signing of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 to passing the INEC budget is not addressing the root issue which is funding the 2019 General Elections. The meaning of this is that even with the existing electoral act smart card readers would still be used as has been demonstrated in recent elections such as Edo and Ondo 2016, Anambra 2017, Ekiti 2018 etc. Saying that signing of the electoral act will determine the usability of smart card readers in the 2019 General elections is not true and incongruent with the recent and current happenings in the Nigerian electoral process.

It is also important to note that the National Assembly had since June 2015 to work on the current Electoral Act amendment bill but chose to only submit it for assent in February 2018 despite promising that it would be passed before the end of 2016. The Nigerian Senate passed its own version of the bill in March 2017 but in February 2018 adopted the resequencing of elections which was very controversial and not in the original bill passed by the Senate. The National Assembly had every opportunity to override the executive decision but that wasn’t done and the current bill was eventually received by the executive on 3rd August 2018.  Using the signing of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 as a precondition to pass the budget for the 2019 Nigerian General elections is therefore unacceptable.

This is a national emergency and urgent steps need to be taken immediately to remedy this perilous situation. Though this is an election related issue it is also a security issue. This is because any crisis stemming from elections always has security implications. It should be remembered that much of the civil unrest across many African countries can be linked to elections directly or indirectly.

This is the time for bold decisions that will save Nigeria from unnecessary chaos and crisis on the altar of politics. Election Monitor does not accept any attempt to truncate the hard-fought democracy of Nigeria and therefore calls on the National Assembly to expedite action on the complete passage of the 2019 General Elections budget before the end of August 2018 which includes reconvening the National Assembly.

In the event of a failure to do this, Election Monitor calls on President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to take every step necessary to save Nigeria from an impending political crisis which would certainly have grave security implications for which he has a fundamental responsibility to all Nigerians. National security is primary and every government is first expected to secure the lives and property of its citizens and delaying passage of an election budget is tantamount to delaying the elections which has a last date that it can be legally conducted. Therefore since this is inherently a security situation the President should treat it as such.

Election Monitor calls on all Nigerians to reject the antics of political actors who are not concerned with the impact of their actions on the average Nigerian on the street. It is therefore imperative that all Nigerians use the 2019 General elections to reject all candidates at all levels who would not serve in Nigeria’s best interest.

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Signed

Abiodun Ajijola
National Coordinator





Thursday, 16 August 2018

PRESS STATEMENT - IMPLICATIONS OF DELAYING PASSAGE OF THE INEC BUDGET FOR THE 2019 NIGERIAN GENERAL ELECTIONS




Press STATEMENT - Implications of delaying passage of the INEC budget for the 2019 Nigerian General Elections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

INEC has proposed a budget of 189.21Bn for the conduct of the 2019 General elections. The total budget required is 242.45Bn with the difference going for security. With just over 6 months to the first set of elections, the budget for the elections is yet to be passed.

INEC will issue the Notice of the 2019 General Elections on Friday 17th August, 2018. The Presidential and National Assembly elections are slated to hold on Saturday 16th February 2019 while the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections are slated to hold on Saturday 2nd March, 2019.

The 28th April, 2019 is the last date for all elections to have been conducted. Pursuant to Sections 76(2), 116(2), 132(2) and 178(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) elections shall not hold later than 30 days before the term of office of the last holder of that office.

The National Assembly has gone on its annual recess and its official resumption date is Tuesday 25th September, 2018. It’s important to state that there are about six (6) weeks from the date of this press release till the formal resumption of the National Assembly.

It’s also important to note that there is a 7 week gap between the current last election date and the actual last date possible by law i.e from 2nd March to 28th April, 2019. In addition there needs to be at least a two-week gap between the National and State elections meaning National elections can't be later than 14th April, 2019.

The meaning of all this is that the country cannot afford to wait till 25th September 2018 to pass the budget for the 2019 Nigerian General Elections. It therefore becomes critical that the National Assembly urgently reconvene to ensure that there is a budget for next year’s election.

Failure to reconvene the National Assembly to pass the INEC budget urgently and long before the official resumption date of 25th September, 2018 is capable of plunging Nigeria into an avoidable and unnecessary constitutional crisis which must be completely avoided.

Election Monitor calls on all senators and members of the Federal House of Representatives to put Nigeria first and put partisan politics in the back seat. Election Monitor commends the senate Committee on INEC and House Committee on Electoral Matters for its current INEC budget review activities. However the leadership of the National Assembly is expected to reconvene the legislature and pass INEC’s budget at the earliest possible date to ensure The Commission is able to effectively prepare for the 2019 Nigerian General Elections.

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria 

Signed 

Abiodun Ajijola 
National Coordinator