The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has claimed that time is running for the new electoral bill to be implemented in the 2023 general elections.
The Commission said continued delay in the assent to the Electoral Act (2010) amendment bill may affect the adoption of the new amendments for use in 2023.
It noted that though it operates based on existing legal regime, it was important to have the law that would guide the elections in place at least 12 to 18 months before the exercise.
Recall that the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, announced February 23, 2023 as the date for the presidential election, which is about one year from now.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, in an interview this weekend, therefore, said:
“The commission operates on the basis of the existing legal regime. The commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections based on the extant and existing constitutional and electoral legal framework.
“The commission does not operate on the basis of speculation and deductions. Yes, the commission is aware of the pendency of a bill to amend the existing legal regime. That bill is still inchoate and does not become law until it is signed by the President and or the National Assembly determines otherwise.
“Hopefully, issues around the amended law will soon be resolved. It is important to have the legal regime in place at least 12 to 18 months before a major election. It is also important to resolve the issues based on the differential timelines in the existing electoral act and the one that is projected in the bill.”
The amendment, prompted by the compelling need to engender transparency, improve the electoral process and boost the credibility of elections, had generated nationwide debate, especially the need for electronic transmission of results and the contentious direct primary made mandatory for political parties.
But President Muhammadu Buhari revealed in his letter to the National Assembly that the direct primary clause, inserted by the lawmakers, was the sole reason he vetoed the bill, noting that parties should have options on the mode of direct primary to adopt. “You can’t dictate to people and say you are practicing democracy,” he added.