A Chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has described the newly signed Electoral Act 2023 as a “New Day for Nigeria” and a huge step in the beginning a new electoral system, a stronger democracy and an improved union in our nation.
In a statement released by his media office in Abuja on Monday, Olawepo-Hashim explained that the act assented by the President last Friday, contains provisions aimed at making elections more transparent and making the votes of the people count.
The new Act stipulates among others, that parties must conduct primaries and submit their list of candidates at least 180 days before the general elections; that INEC can review results declared under duress; that funds for general elections must be released at least one year before the election.
Clause 84 of the new law also stipulates that anyone holding a political office – ministers, commissioners, special advisers and others – must relinquish the position before they can be eligible to participate in the electoral process either as a candidate or as a delegate.
The former Presidential candidate stated that the Act is a victory for the people and democracy, since credible periodic election is a Hallmark of Democracy and it is the vehicle of expression of SOVEREIGNTY OF THE PEOPLE.
He maintained that having credible elections that reflect the will of the people has been an important challenge of Nigeria since return to Democracy in 1999.
“Elections were massively rigged in 2003 and 2007.Towards 2011 a slow process of electoral reform started that saw some significant improvement in 2015 which sadly relapsed in 2019.
“The effect of public perception that the electoral system is not clean has for long, been increasing voters apathy in our country”, he said.
He added that credit for the signed law must be given to the relentless pursuit of Nigerian people of higher Ideals of democracy expressed through the work of various civil society organisations and the media who worked hard for the ACT, the National Assembly that conveyed the wishes of the people and President Muhammadu Buhari who has written his name in Gold by giving assent.
According to him, “Democracy is not simply about building roads, providing electricity, and water and police service. Efficient and benevolent authoritarian regimes sometimes perform those services better.
“Essentially, Democracy is about the right of the people to choose who governs them through a transparent electoral system that reflects their will.”
He therefore admonished that “every citizen has a role to play and those who are qualified to vote but have not registered no longer have any excuse not to do so because now, every vote will count.