Strengthening Democracy: NASS Committee leads the way in electoral reforms | Akeem Abas

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The National Assembly has commenced extensive consultations with Stakeholders, Civil Society Organizations, Political Parties, Election Management Bodies, and the general public towards creating an electoral process that is transparent, inclusive, and reflective of the will of the people.

Recognising the importance of free, fair, and credible elections as the bedrock of any thriving democracy, the NASS Joint Committee on Electoral Matters has embarked on a transformative journey to revolutionize the electoral process in Nigeria.

With the ongoing efforts of the National Assembly (NASS) Joint Committee on Electoral Matters, Nigeria is poised to witness a new era of electoral reforms that will strengthen democracy, promote good governance, and ensure that the voice of every Nigerian is heard.

The Joint Committee under the leadership of Senator Sharafadeen Alli (APC-Oyo South Senatorial District) and Hon. Bayo Balogun (APC-Ibeju/Lekki Federal Constituency) has left no stone unturned in its pursuit of comprehensive electoral reforms. The vision is to create an electoral process that is transparent, inclusive, and reflective of the will of the people.

No doubt, these efforts under their leadership have provided a platform for robust discussions and the exchange of ideas, ensuring that the proposed reforms are comprehensive and representative of the diverse interests/needs and aspirations of Nigerians.

One of the key areas of focus for the Committee is the enhancement of the legal framework governing elections in Nigeria. The aim is to address loopholes, strengthen enforcement mechanisms, and introduce innovative measures that will safeguard the integrity of the electoral process.

In addition to legal reforms, the Committee also aims to unbundle the functions of INEC, improve the electronic voting systems (IREV), biometric voter system (BVAS), and the use of technology in result collation and transmission.

Alli, the Senate Committee Chairman on
Electoral Matters, said “the Electoral Act, 2022 was one of the best legislation passed in Nigerian’s legislative history, with outstanding provisions and if appropriately applied by all actors involved in the electoral process, would add immeasurable value to the integrity of Nigerian elections”.

“The Electoral Act 2022 was passed by the 9th National Assembly and it was adjudged to be a transformation and radical shift from Electoral Act, 2010. This was due to the inclusive approach adopted in amending the clauses as well as the high level of attention given to the bill before and after it was eventually passed”.

The lawmaker reiterated that the need for further legislative action through the incorporation of additional provisions necessitated the engagements with
stakeholders and experts on electoral matters, on amendments to the Electoral Legal Framework with the intention of improving the electoral and leadership recruitment process.

He said that the efforts are to enhance electoral integrity, explore measures to combat voter’s suppression and promote a level playing field for all political parties and actors within the process. More importantly, inspire citizens’ confidence and trust in the process, and significantly give credibility to elections in Nigeria.

In one of his papers, Alli said that “the efforts is targeted at minimizing human interference, and ensuring accurate and timely results, adding such reform would go a long way in leveraging technology to enhance the efficiency, transparency, and credibility of the electoral process”.

Alli, who was part of a team that monitored the just conducted presidential election in Liberia, placed strong emphasis on patriotism and attitudinal change from the Nigerian political class as displayed by Liberians in their first self- conducted election.

Recognising that an informed electorate is crucial for the success of any electoral process, the lawmaker said that part of their target is to educate citizens on their rights, the importance of participation, and the electoral process itself.

He said that the Committee would partner with all Stakeholders, INEC, Civil Society Organisations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies as well as other relevant professional bodies to ensure that the electoral process and its outcome regains and sustains the trust of the electorate.

Alli reiterated the commitment of the 10th National Assembly towards supporting the mantra of President Bola Tinubu administration ‘Renewed Change’ to move the country forward.

No doubt, the commitment of the 10th NASS to electoral reforms has not gone unnoticed. The committee’s commitment and tireless efforts have earned them the respect and support of the National Assembly, as well as the admiration of the Nigerian people.

The leadership has started well with its vision to instil hope and confidence in the democratic process, inspiring citizens to actively engage in shaping the future of the nation.

As Nigeria continues on its path towards consolidating its democracy, the National Assembly Joint Committee on Electoral Matters, led by Senator Sharafadeen Alli and Honourable Bayo Balogun, remain steadfast in its mission to effect lasting change.

The vision for a transparent, inclusive, and credible electoral process is a testament to its unwavering commitment to the principles of democracy and the well-being of the Nigerian people.

The journey towards a more vibrant and participatory democracy has begun, and the National Assembly is at the forefront, leading the way towards a brighter future for Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has applauded the NASS Joint Committee under the dynamic leadership of Senator Alli and Rep. Balogun for their innovative approach to the reforms.

Senator Akpabio, who acknowledged the progress made within a short period and the collaborations with Organizations, assured Nigerians of the NASS leadership’s readiness to provide full support to the Joint Committee in achieving its objectives.

Akeem Abas is Special Adviser on Media to Senator Sharafadeen Alli

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