ELECTORAL ACT AMENDMENT: WHY GOVS MOVED AGAINST LAWMAKERS â€“SARAKI
Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State said the Nigeria Governors' Forum was happy that 'the undemocratic' part of Section 87 of the Amended 2010 Electoral Act has been expunged.
In a brief chat with newsmen in Lagos, he stated that one of the best things that Nigerians should commend the NGF for was the fight that led to the killing of the bill, which sought to confer automatic membership of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the various political parties on members of the National Assembly.
The NGF chairman was optimistic that elimination of the controversial sub-section from the 2010 Electoral Act by the senate would go a long way in strengthening the country's 11-years-old democracy.
'What has happened in the last few days about the collective activities of governors across party lines is towards ensuring that we kick out and kill that obnoxious Amended Electoral Act.
'It was passed in the House of Representatives and it was to be passed in the senate. Our action is to strengthen our democracy. We are happy that the senate looked at and expunged some of those parts of the bill,' Saraki affirmed.
He described the process that led to the removal of the section from the Electoral Act as collective actions of all the governors across various political lines in the country.
Governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had rejected the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act by the National Assembly. They described the lawmakers' action as undemocratic, self-serving, embarrassing and a threat to PDP as well as democracy.
The Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) had also kicked against the proposed law. Youth groups had last December 14 staged a rally at the National Assembly, Abuja, to kick against the passage of the controversial Section 87 of the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill by the House of Representatives.
Saraki, however, maintained that journalists have a lot to do in creating awareness and educating eligible voters on what is expected of them before, during and after the 2011 general elections.
His words for the electorate: 'We must come out and participate very actively in the voters' registration exercise and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must ensure that every eligible voter is registered. The INEC should adhere strictly to the implementation of its programme for the elections as presented to us in the council of state.'
The Senate and House of Representatives had passed different versions of the amendment bill. Before the bill was jointly passed by the two chambers, they deleted the new Section 87(11) seeking to make lawmakers members of NEC of their parties.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu had said shortly after the controversial section was removed: 'We bowed to public opinion. What we have done is to have another look at it and we felt well, if this is heating the system, we can as well drop it.
'So, basically, we have removed that aspect dealing with the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the parties, such that the parties will now determine those who will be the members of the NEC. 'We are not bothered by the opinion of governors. They are just 36 out of over 150 million Nigerians, but our members were in their various constituencies and they listened to the opinion of their constituents. We only bowed to public opinion.'