The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria (CSOs) yesterday protested in Abuja against President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2022.
The CSOs staged the protest at the Unity Fountain, Maitama in Abuja and were joined by people living with disabilities. The peaceful protest was led by the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani, the CSOs Situation Room Leader, Amaka Obi, and Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo.
Also, some prominent Nigerians lent their voice to the protest. Atedo Peterside, the founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank, urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to assent to the Electoral Bill which has been on his desk for weeks.
Peterside, who is the President of Anap Foundation, added that in the seven years of President Buhari’s regime, there had been no progress regarding electoral reforms.
Re #Protests, @MBuhari should please just sign this Electoral Bill so we can give him the credit for having done something tangible in the area of electoral reform. It has been almost 7 years of zero progress in this area under his watch. @anapfoundation https://t.co/OWlGNOGZZh
— Atedo Peterside (@AtedoPeterside) February 22, 2022
The protesters carried different banners with inscriptions ‘President Muhammadu Buhari make history sign the electoral bill now!’, ‘#sign the electoral bill now!’, ‘President Buhari, sign the Electoral Bill now’, ‘Prevent electoral rigging’, ‘No bill, no electronic transmission of results, #sign the electoral bill’.
They urged Buhari to expedite the bill’s signing to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to release the notice of elections exactly 360 days before the 2023 elections in compliance with the provisions of the bill.
Speaking at the protest, Rafsanjani said the CSOs expected the president to fulfil his promises and sign the bill.
“It will no longer be a moneybag election. Politicians will no longer truncate the election. We are urging Buhari to sign the electoral bill now before the time frame expires. It is our hope that Buhari will sign,” said CISLAC boss.
Buhari had rejected the electoral bill four times in the last five years. In December 2018, the president rejected the bill on the premise that it was too close to the 2019 general elections, while last December, he rejected the bill based on the adoption of direct primaries as the only legally approved procedure for the nomination of candidates.
The protesting CSO groups included Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room; Yiaga Africa, Partners for Electoral Reform (PER), International Press Centre, Institute for Media and Society, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, The Albino Foundation, and the Centre for Citizens with Disability. Others were Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Labour Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), Transition Monitoring Group, CLEEN Foundation and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).
Also at the protest were Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NNNGO), Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), Enough is Enough, The Electoral Hub, Centre for Liberty, and Take Back Nigeria Movement.
Similarly, the International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre (IPCRC), 100 Women Lobby Group, Women in Politics Forum, Raising New Voices, Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa and Ready To Lead Africa joined the protest.