CSOs Organise Peaceful Protest in Abuja Over Buhari’s Delay to Sign Electoral Bill

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  • Presidency says Buhari ‘any moment from now’

A coalition of civil society organisations in the country on Tuesday in Abuja protested the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the reworked Electoral Act Amendment Bill which was transmitted to him by the National Assembly on January 31, 2022.

The CSOs has declared Saturday, February 26, 2022 as a day for national protest to demand for an immediate assent to the bill by the president.

There has been a groundswell of agitations by a cross section of civil society organisations, the media, political parties and individuals demanding for the president’s assent to the amendment bill.

Organisations which participated in Tuesday’s protests include Partners for Electoral Reform, Nigeria Civil Society Room, Yiaga Africa, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development, International Press Institute, Cleen Foundation, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Enough is Enough and the Electoral Hub.

Others were Institute for Media and Society, Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organisation, Centre for Liberty, Labour Civil Society Coalition, Transition Monitoring Group, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Centre for Disability, and The Albino Foundation, Women in Politics, Take Back Nigeria Movement, 100 Women Lobby Group, Raising New Voices, Ready to Lead Africa and Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa.

The protest held at the Unity Fountain in Abuja for several hours during which protesters condemned the delay by the president to sign the bill into law.

In a statement jointly signed during the protest, the 25 CSOs asked the president to sign the bill within the 30 days’ timeline and thereafter propose any amendments if he so desired as he did to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

“Further amendments to the Electoral Bill 2022 can be proposed after assent has been granted. It is within the President’s prerogative to propose amendments after signing the bill like he did in the case of the Petroleum Industry Bill and 2022 Appropriation bill, an act which attracted commendation.

“We call on President Buhari to sign the Electoral bill into law on or before the expiration of the 30 days’ timeline on the 1st March 2022 to enable INEC to issue Notice of Election and release the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election,” reads the statement.

Clause 28 (1) of the bill requires INEC to issue notice of election not later than 360 days before the day appointed for an election.

Speaking on the protest, the Deputy Director at the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Mboho Eno, said signing the bill will be to the credit of the president and that it would give the nation a new breath of fresh air in the electoral process.

“It is an opportunity for the president to speak loudly that he is a President for the citizens and he listens. He should not see the call by the CSOs as “playing cheap politics” as opined by his special adviser – Femi Adesina – yesterday,” he said, adding that “CSOs are partners in nation-building and they are playing their roles like that. CSOs pressure or not, Nigeria deserves a new, improved and citizen-friendly which the new bill represents” he said.

Buhari to sign Bill “any moment from now” – Adesina

Meanwhile, Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesman, has stated that President Buhari will sign the reworked amendment Bill ‘any moment from now’. He stated this on Tuesday while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme.

“He (Buhari) will sign it (the Electoral Bill) any moment from now. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be anytime, but within 30 days,” he said, stressing: “It could be signed today, it could be signed tomorrow, In a matter of hours, not days. Hours could be 24 hours. It could be 48 hours, not days or weeks.”

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