We sat with our noses pressed against the windowpane, longing to hear the announcement of the signed electoral bill, which was proposed to the president against the 2023 general election. Since the president’s emergence in 2015, the citizens have been in anticipation of the notion of a free and fair election.
Elections in Nigeria are characterized by widespread vote-rigging and violence, which left the country tottering. The country always faces crises during the election period, but this fear was unleashed during the campaign against the 2015 election by the president. Among the promises made was to leave an electoral act, which will be rooted under a legacy that will be a free and fair election. This promise was kept in the minds of the citizens, and the time for implementing this promise came after the electoral act of the 2023 general election was passed.
We all thought that the president would immediately sign the electoral bill, knowing that was what the citizens wanted and as a man of the people. But this bill was passed and brought for the sixth time before it was finally signed. What brought the delay as the general election is fast approaching.
On the 25th of February, 2022, the president signed the electoral act amendment bill into law, but he rejected section 84(12) of the signed electoral law. Section 84 of the electoral act stipulates that anyone holding a political office – must relinquish the position before they can be eligible to participate in the electoral process either as a candidate or delegate. The president needs this to be amended because he received inputs from relevant ministers, departments, and agencies of government after careful and thorough reviews of the bill and its implications to democratic processes in our country.
This was what caused the delay. He wants this section to be amended by the disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for. Looking at this, it favours some and also against others. And if the general election should be held like this, some people at the other end will be the victims.
The greatest fear of Nigerians in such a scenario was not having a free and fair election. This bill is said to transform a free and fair election in the history of the country’s politics, and this is what the president should stand by and other representatives. Because this is what the people want, and you are there for the people. The people have shown interest in the new amendment of the electoral bill; then, all efforts should be made to see that those things are implemented.
The widely harled biometric voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the electronic transmission of results and other components of the bill become a scary nightmare to the politicians. Because it makes it difficult to manipulate the electoral process. We need to have an easy way to conduct an election without crises, which is convenient for the people and the election workers, to produce a transparent result.
It is high time that we should now be conducting a free and fair election. An election where a citizen can choose his choice based on what he thinks about his candidate and not some key players preceding on who to win. The government is there for the people and should therefore protect their interests.