By Sarauniya G Usman
Ahead of the fourth coming 2019 general elections in Nigeria, over 60 Civil Society Organisations (CSO),under the auspices of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room,on Wednesday proposed the conduct of general elections in one single day.
The Convener of the CSOs and Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Mr Clement Nwankwo, made the call at a one day meeting with CSOs on constitution and electoral reforms, supported by the British Department for international Development (DFID) in Abuja.
The call was premised on the need to reduce the high cost of conducting elections in the country as well as making the elections more credible.
Nwankwo said, “Though the National Assembly had made a law sequencing the order of elections, but the civil society is insisting that elections should be conducted in one day. It is not impossible to actualise the process in 2019 elections. It is only a question of timing your process and the logistics.
The group said, “It is possible to do elections in one day. With the last elections, it was twice, what these amendment suggest is a sequence of three sets of election and for me, that is not acceptable. If all elections are conducted in one day, the controversies being generated by the amendments would be put to rest, and resources would be saved as well”.
He decried the huge cost of monies expended on the conduct of election, including the shutting down of the nation’s economy for the periods of the elections.
Professor of Law from the University of Ilorin, Wahab Egbewole, sponsor of ‘Not too Young to Run bill’ and some members of various civil society group, who made the proposal were of the conviction that the move is also capable of putting to rest the current controversy surrounding the order of elections as amended by the National Assembly.
Prof. Egbewole,however appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to accent to the Electoral Act as amended by the National Assembly.
“There are several good provisions in the proposal that has been compiled by the National Assembly, and has been sent to the president for accent, should the President have any objection to any of the clauses contained in the bill, we would ask that this be treated in isolation, but there is an urgent need to put in place, some electoral framework for the nation to go forward”, He said.
Egbewole, commended the National Assembly for the efforts, adding that there are about 29 amended clauses that if signed by the President can improve upon processes and conduct of election in the country.
He however advised that if the amendment is passed CSOs should ensure that only credible person should be made members of bodies such as the proposed Electoral Offences Commission.
On his part, Samson Itodo, noted that the amendment if passed into law will deepen the integrity of elections in the country as well as enhance neutrality of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Samson, however called for the harmonisation of the States Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) with INEC in order to tackle the issue of under-age voting as well as impunity of state governors.