The ninth National Assembly, under Senator Ahmed Lawan, may go down in history, as the Assembly that denied Nigerians, the opportunity of ensuring that their votes count, in 2023. Regrettably, the Assembly, in the past, had communicated to Nigerians that it is ready to do the biddings of the Executives, and would not give a hoot, if it’s referred to, as rubber stamp Assembly. Since the statement was made, the National Assembly has had opportunities, severally, to change the narrative, but instead, the opposite continued, with flimsy excuses from those we elected, to represent our interest, and to put the country, on the path of growth, and development, ultimately. Since the electoral bill was quashed, by the upper legislative members, tongues have continued to wag, such that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) members have continued to struggle, explaining to Nigerians, those who care to listen, why a majority of them, from the North, voted against the bill. Prior to this time, an alarm was raised by the public, that there was a move, by the red Chambers, to alter certain clauses of the bill, which the Senate President himself denied, and even called those that raised such alarm, rabble rousers.
The rest is history, as they say. One significant thing also noted, unfortunately, on the pattern of voting, is that the law makers voted purely along party, religious, and ethnic lines, and this has raised a fundamental question, of whether the cliché of indissolubility of Nigeria, which those in power sing, as a song, is not mere lip service! Those who did not vote at all, and again, Southern Senators, who, as a result of selfish interest, voted against the bill, will have tough times, to explain to their constituents, sooner than later, why they betrayed the confidence reposed in them, when it mattered most, and above all, clogged the wheel of democratic advancement, in the country, when history beckoned on them. The immediate past Independent National Electoral Commission (lNEC), Chairman, Attahiru Jega, recently submitted that electronic voting is useless without electronic transfer of results. Our suspicion therefore, is that the old order of ballots box snatching, and other forms of electoral malpractices, which the proposed Electoral Bill would have addressed however, may have been entrenched. is waiting to snowball in future elections, whose hallmark is the 2023 general elections, with the boasting of APC that it would retain power.
The failure of the law makers to pass the Electoral Bill, as expected, by the majority, and voting-age Nigerians, is still attracting commentaries from various quarters. Many Civil Society Groups have vowed to approach the court, while some have done so. The opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), through its spokes person, Kola Ologbondiyan, has called on Nigerians to be awake, saying that the rejection of the Electoral Bill was designed by the ruling party, to rig the elections, knowing full well, according to him, that Nigerians will reject them at the polls, in 2023. Be it as it may, in whatever guise, the Electoral Bill was rejected by the law makers, we wish to advise the government, to live above board, and desist from any attempt that would amount to subverting the will of the people, in future elections. The local government elections, now around the corner, and the impending Anambra State governorship elections, should serve as a watershade for free, fair, and credible elections. Those who think elections in Nigeria should be business as usual, with the rejection of the Electoral Bill, should read the mood of the moment, and the people, to avoid untoward situation.