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Electoral Bill And The Saraki's Interest By Gbadebo Adeagbo

In developed countries, electoral act and inclusion of new act is solely for a better discharge of duties of the electoral umpires whom the fate of any political candidate lies with a resultant effects in the outcome of the poll. My flexible believe is that for democracy to strive the electioneering process must be participatory, free and fair. The generalised anxiety that has engulfed the political space of the country is synonymous to an imbalance and confused state. Yet the Nigeria's president said, signing the electoral bill will result to "confusion"-in as much as this uncertainty in the intention of the bill is, I'm obliged that the bill carries more sepulchral tendencies which cannot be fathom by a layman. Therefore, what sane Nigerians should deliberate on is the interest of both the executive and the legislature and the power ascribed to each tiers of government within the ambit of law. The major altercations in the new electoral bill are sections 63(4), 91, and more in particularly 91(9), as well as section 25. To therefore, make the process subservient to the wish of the manipulators is a big risk to the advancement of democracy in Nigeria.

The three amendment is cascading towards jeopardizing the striving electoral reforms that is devoid of personal interest or undeserving preference. The new amendment overrides the power of section 63(4) by only considering announcing the results per polling units without painstaking counting and sorting. Section 91 do not only raise the price of running a successful campaigns and purchase of nomination form but has made our democracy more costly to afford. Similarly, section 25 changed the sequential order of the election with regards to the position(with the national assembly coming first, governorship and assemblies and lastly the presidential position).No worse have been done to the electoral act than the displacement of some of these crucial sections of the electoral act. Why I therefore agree with the president on his assertions is due to the latest provisories which is targeted at frustrating the electoral act.

The old electoral reforms was championed by the people's democratic party which is believed to be construed on the premises of flexibilities and rigidities. The PDP government conducted an election which they acclaimed as free and fair with an Old law. The election was adjudged the best since 1999. President Goodluck Jonathan quickly congratulates the winner, having see the outcome from various states. If the old law could have worked perfectly, a reintroduction of new act is liable to throwing up the nation into state of unrest and chaos. The implications of the new act is that the previous activities of the independent national electoral commission will be declared null and void. The new act also make card reader compulsory , with a new form of technology which could be subjected external cyber security threats.Festus keyamo does not only argue that the timing is wrong but the amendment is unnecessary considering the conditions presently in place. He argued that the same electoral act 2010 which was used for the 2015 general election is still a perfect match for the 2019 election.

Saraki's interest and shenanigans is therefore genuine and real. The motive behind the passage of the bill by the sarakists is for a successful plot to rig out the general election through every possible means. His wingmen and acolytes are unrepentant to upturn the paradigm from best practice. Why the amendments should be tagged unfit by all learned Nigerians is first the overblown financial implications in running for various elective position. Second, the manner through which the counting and sorting choose to follow which is largely undemocratic. Third, the change in order and timing of the electioneering process.

At the extant of law, a good law and amendment should have the interest of diverse categories of individuals and groups in mind. Despite giving the lawmakers enough time to make the amendment the Saraki led national assembly still proffer an uncertain clause that will make the political nature of the country more tensed than never before. How can they leadership of the Senate clarify the ambiguity in the new amendment?

Rather than embarking on a mission that is seemingly impossible by the leadership of the Senate how best have they acted swiftly to various threat to our democratic practise. For example the recent vote buying epidemic requires a sound legislative antidote which the leadership of the Senate are indifferent about. The violence that are typical of any general election is hitherto treated with nonchalance. The overpriced cost of winning primary election should be tackled. The priority of the Senate should not be to stampede a process that is striving to survive with a sudden Act that is grossly inconsistent.The Saraki's caucus plans to override the decision of the president is simply a time wastage. The difficulties in accruing two-third will not only frustrate the Senate but also expose more hidden agendas of the leadership of the Senate.

It will be hard to trust a man juxtaposing layman terminology with law during the last Osun Gubernatorial election. However, the National Assembly should be more bothered on emerging realities that are bound to occur during the election day. The present challenges that are clog to democratic consolidation, should be a major concern.The highest records of election malpractices was recorded between 1999-2011, while the subsequent years was greeted with slight improvement. If democracy is gradual and steady there's no need to bother oneself about a law that is self serving, shady and deceitful.

In 2007, several states being controlled by people's democratic party were hijacked through massive rigging and other anti democratic process. Ekiti,Kogi, Rivers, Plateau, Kaduna were heavily suppressed by massive electoral frauds. The late president, Umar Musa Yaradua once attested to the fact that the election that brought him in was manipulated and apologized to all Nigerians.

Buhari's rejection of the Bill should be seen as a way of salvaging  our electoral laws from immature judgement and compromise. Apart from the laws binding the electoral umpire from discharging there duties, all other amendments are erratic and erroneously placed.

Gbadebo Adeagbo is a public affairs commentator. He writes from Ado Ekiti.

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