Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu has urged the National Assembly to remove the contentious direct primaries from the new electoral reforms in the proposed law or override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on the Bill to enable Nigerians to benefit from the new electoral reforms.
Aniagwu who spoke on African Independent Television, AIT, a live programme monitored in Asaba, Tuesday evening, told Nigerians to prevail on the National Assembly on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
He said Nigerians should not dissipate energy debating on the propriety or otherwise of the President’s refusal to assent to the Bill but channel the energy to call on the National Assembly to either override the President’s veto or amend the Bill quickly and send it back to the President for his assent.
According to Aniagwu, beyond the issue of funds mentioned by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, we also have the challenge of data.
Aniagwu said: “From the way we operate at the moment, it is possible for somebody to vote in Ekiti state and also move to Osun to vote in the direct primaries because the data is not there as it should.
“So if indeed we need to have direct primaries which am not against, we need to first of all clean up the system. We need to enact the law to ensure that it addresses the issues of manipulations”.
While recalling that the President refused to assent to the amendment in 2018 on the guise that it was too close to the 2019 general election, he told the National Assembly to remove the grey arrears and send them back to the President to enable the country to have an electoral law that could address certain issues particularly the online transmission of results which is more important to Nigerians.
Hear him: “I believe that once this is done we will begin to make some progress but if we continue to debate as to the propriety or otherwise of the President’s refusal to give assent to the Bill, we will be doing so at the country’s peril.
“We need to get this done so that we can have an electoral act that is grounded in transparency”, adding that; “Nigerians should not go low with those who don’t want the country to have a credible electoral process”.
He commended the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC for the introduction of the Bimodal Voters Verification and Accreditation System (BVAS) which, according to him, had reduced thuggery, violence, ballot box snatching among other rigging practices.
He said: “The law is very clear if the President decides to veto a bill sent to him by the National Assembly after 30days NASS is free to recall that Bill and override his veto.
“But because we know that this National Assembly does not have the guts and the ball to even attempt to override the President’s veto, the best thing we can do is to urge the National Assembly to take back the Bill and expunge the aspect of direct primaries that is the problem at the moment so that the President can assent to that Bill that will enable us to have electronic transmission of results.
“Once we are able to do that we can still come back perhaps after this administration has left to begin to think of how we can indeed define the electoral process such that we could have direct primaries.”