Lawyers and other stakeholders have appealed to the President, Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to ignore align himself with the aspirations of long-suffering Nigerians and sign the Electoral Act as passed by the National Assembly.
The stakeholders equally urged the President not to be discouraged by the spirited attempts by opposition figures to discredit the amendments, especially the clause which compels political parties to adopt the direct primary mode of electing candidates for elective positions.
Director-General of the Ekiti State Culture and Tourism Board, Ambassador Wale Ojo-Lanre, noted that President Buhari will be doing the nation’s electoral system a world of good by assenting to the bill.
Ojo-Lanre said, “The President has blazed many trails in governance in this country. Should he sign this bill, he will be adding another feather to his political cap. He has the opportunity to write his name in gold because of the importance of this particular bill to democracy and governance.”
In her contribution to the debate, a human rights advocate, Ms Justina Achegbo, said, “This amendment is a right in itself to voters fundamental human right of having their votes count; hence the President has to protect their rights by assenting the bill.
“President Buhari should show a high sense of responsibility by signing the bill. Not only to sign the bill but the President should do so in good time.
“This is to forestall unnecessary apprehension because delay in doing so may raise tension and create agitation among Nigerians.”
Speaking in a similar vein, a lawyer and public affairs analyst, Paschal Njoku, said, “I know that many governors, especially of the All Progressives Congress, are not happy with the direct primaries imposed on political parties and I believe the President will likely be on the same side with them, but that is not a reason for him not to assent to it.
“Many democracies of the world, like the United States of America, go by direct primary; so there may actually be nothing wrong with it, but even with his opposition, he can assent to it and then seek amendments later. We need to move forward.”
Also, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Dr Goke Lalude, said the president has been given a golden opportunity to write his name in gold.
Lalude said, “It is now time for President Buhari to demonstrate his status of statesmanship. He must demonstrate political will and not mind whose ox will be gored among his party cohorts.
“The President is no longer coming to beg for votes from Nigerians. He can do and undo and it is high time to do that which millions of our people expect of him. He should sign the amendment to our electoral law and swell our democracy.”
He enjoined all Nigerians, no matter their political persuasions, to unite against electoral malpractices.
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