The leadership of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), said it worried over the latest twist in the Executive-Legislative face-off over the Electoral Amendment Bill, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the reworked Bill.
According to IPAC, certain forces presently holding political offices, in league with others with shared interests against the Bill, have since engaged in overt and covert activities aimed at scuttling the bill from becoming an Act.
In a statement signed Wednesday in Abuja by its national chairman Engr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani, if opponents of the Bill succeed in winning over the President, “the implication is that none of its series of innovative guidelines and provisions will be applied by INEC in the conduct of the 2023 elections.
“Like most enlightened Nigerians, we in IPAC had expected that following the withholding of assent by the President when the Bill was first transmitted to him by lawmakers, the reworked version submitted afterwards, would have been such that possible areas of conflicts were avoided.
“However, the Federal Legislators in their wisdom, decided to introduce new clauses among which, is the one that makes it mandatory for appointed political office holders who are interested in contesting elective positions, to resign before doing so. Expectedly, the Bill has generated a new round of controversy with vituperation from those interest groups that perceive the clause to be targeted at them.
“The greatest fears of Nigerians and those of us at IPAC, is that in the event of such a scenario, the widely hailed Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) as well as the electronic transmission of results along with other cardinal components of the Bill, will not be mandatory for use by INEC in the elections.”
While urging the President not to throw away the grains with the chaff which will be the case if the Electoral Act, for reasons of some clauses in it, is thrown away in its entirety, the statement said: “The leadership of IPAC is loathe to buy into the opinion held in many quarters that all the controversies over the electoral bill might have been a deliberate and conscious conspiracy by power interests in the Executive and the Legislature who are averse to positive changes that make it difficult for them to continue in their old game of manipulating the electoral process. If that is the case, all democrats and patriotic Nigerians owe it a duty to stand up against these retrogressive forces who are bent on retarding the progress of our hard-won democracy.
“The IPAC is calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to go ahead and give his assent to the Bill as presently transmitted by the National Assembly. This will be demonstrating his avowed commitment to bequeathing a culture of transparent and credible elections to the country.
“The Bill can afterwards, be revisited and amended again if, compelling reasons emerge to do so either before or after the 2023 elections.”