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REPS PROMISE NEW ELECTORAL LAW IN 2 WEEKS

By NBF News
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The House of Representatives yesterday gave assurance that the new Electoral Act would be ready in the next two weeks. Therefore, it asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to get set for the 2011 elections.

In conjunction with the Senate and Speakers of State Houses of Assembly, the Chairman, House Committee on Constitution Review and Deputy Speaker, Usman Bayero Nafada said the National Assembly would surely fasttrack the passage of the electoral Bill.

The Bill seeks to further alter the 1999 constitution first alteration, Act Number 5, 2010 to provide for new time-line for the conduct of national elections by INEC, following the request for extension of time to conduct fresh voter registration.

With the commitments to assist INEC conduct free and fair elections next year, Nafada promised that the amended version of the electoral Act would be gazetted within two weeks.

'The sections involved in the amendment are sections 5, 10, 11 and 17 of the first Alteration Act. We must make selfless contributions for the speedy development of our democratic process.''

The Deputy Speaker noted that good electoral system that ensured free and fair elections had become a passion rather than idea for Nigerians, and urged stakeholders to proffer ideas that would engender true democratic system in the country.

INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega in his submission to the public hearing said the commission was satisfied with the time frame being proposed to give it a good time to conduct credible voter registration and general elections in the country in 2011.

'We, in INEC are determined to do our best to satisfy the aspirations of Nigerians to conduct credible elections,' he assured, adding that the commission was compelled to request for an extension of time because of the desire to conduct credible elections.

By the proposed amendment, INEC would conduct elections in April not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days.

Minority Leader in the House, Alhaji Ali Ndume (ANPP Borno state)stated that his party had confidence in the ability of INEC to conduct credible elections in 2011.

However, the ANPP canvassed for an amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act to pave way for elections to be conducted in one day, instead of staggering it.

National chairman of the party, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu submitted at the public hearing that elections in one day would help in determining the true will of the people.

Time, he noted had come to remove the feelings that the subsisting order of elections was deliberately inserted to subvert the unfettered expression of the people in the coming elections.

'Put simply, the intended bandwagon effect of such an insertion in favour of any political party raises a fundamental question of whether INEC can be relied upon as a truly independent electoral umpire.

'We in the new ANPP believe that if this is not seriously addressed, it will weaken the interest of Nigerians in the electoral process. We need to ensure that only those who are the choice of the people are declared the winners of elections.'

In all, he said that ANPP was in support of amending the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, so that INEC will be able to deliver a credible elections necxt year.