OrderPaperToday – The Electoral Act (amendment) bill when passed will lead to a drastic reduction in violence in the 2023 general elections.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, made this known on Tuesday while fielding questions after delivering a lecture at the National Defence College Course 29 Programme in Abuja.
In a press statement by the Special Assistant (Press) to the President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo, Lawan said the bill will provide for an electoral offences commission, charged particularly with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders.
He said, “let me give some commendation to the National Assembly for continuously working on the electoral act to provide for a better electoral environment in Nigeria. All the improvement we have added was as a result of legislations passed by the National Assembly, and of course, supported by the Executive.
“This is going to be a continuous effort because electoral violence is largely a product of either genuine or misinformation of iniquity or some kind of conspiracy against certain persons during elections.
“But I also believe – and that is the position of the National Assembly generally – that we should have the Electoral Offences Commission, so that people who are involved in electoral violence will be prosecuted.
“I believe that it will go a long way in reducing and minimizing of all these tendencies of people taking the laws into their hands. But in addition, we are currently working on the Electoral Act, we want to amend it and we intend to achieve the amendment before June or thereabout.
“Our intention in the National Assembly with this is to further sanitize the electoral environment, and empower the election management body – INEC – to conduct seamless, transparent and very open sort of election where a winner is very happy that he is a winner and a looser will be glad that he lost in a very fair contest.
“So, we are working on this and we hope that the 2023 general elections will see less of electoral violence because the law itself would have been further improved.”
The President of the red chamber also tasked Nigerian leaders to deploy strategic leadership in the realization of developmental initiatives that accommodates the national interest.
“For us particularly in this country, strategic political leadership is an imperative for development. You can’t but deploy it, and leaders must be strategic. And it is required even more in countries like ours where the challenges of development are most.
“Unfortunately, almost every issue you bring in Nigeria would rather have or would be given either political, ethnic, geo-political or religious coloration. So, it makes governance tough. It gives leadership massive challenges because such colorations complicate the issues.
“Issues that could easily be relative and understood with little effort become so enmeshed in controversies that it may take you time to recover, and probably you may not even recover at all.
“This is an opportunity for me to appeal to all of us in political leadership that our responsibility to the people of Nigeria must remain the one and only critical factor for taking decisions. The national interest must override any other interest because it is the interest of the majority of the people of the country. If we do that, chances are that we will always get it right.
“I think it will be unpardonable for anyone to think that you can create controversies around government’s development programmes or projects. Let there be progressive and positive criticisms. Let’s allow government a chance,” Lawan said.
He noted that while Nigeria is heterogenous, and diverse, leaders must ensure that they weave the diversity into strength, create and sustain unity to engender peace and progress.
The bill is currently at the committee stage in both chambers and will be considered upon resumption