JONATHAN BOWS TO PRESSURE, SIGNS ELECTORAL ACT, RELEASES INEC FUNDS.

The long awaited amended Electoral Act was finally been signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan Friday morning in Abuja.

INEC had, on Wednesday, raised an alarm that it was lagging behind its schedule to turn around to carry out the planned overhaul of the voters register due to the absence of a guiding law and lack funds for the exercise.

Mr Jonathan signed the bill flanked by the vice president, Namadi Sambo; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; Senate majority leader, Teslim Folarun; Secretary to the Government of Federation, ; Attorney General of the federation, Mohammed Adoke; the minister of finance, Segun Aganga and the special adviser to president on national assembly matters, Mohammed Abba-Aji, who presented the document to the president.

“The Act we have just signed today introduces staggered elections in Section 25, the mood and manner of conducting party primaries and respect for party autonomy in Section 87 and among others,” Mr Jonathan said.

He also stated that “serious concerns have been raised regarding some of the sections and their capacity to constitute our inspiration for expanding our democratic space and driven by the belief that the promise of those processes has greater potential and options to broaden and advance our match to democratic freedom than undermine it”.

Mr. Jonathan said he received three clean copies of the amended electoral bill three days.
“Let me on behalf of citizens congratulate the National Assembly and other stakeholders for this initiative,” he said.

He said the process leading the passage of the bill “was a test of the nation’s emerging democratic maturity. It is proof that this system can muster the capacity to correct itself while the nation moves on to a higher level of political development.

“Our lawmakers and other stakeholders have demonstrated by this that if a fault is identified in a system we do not have to pull the whole house down and start the journey all over. There is no perfect human system but the system can be improved to make it work better for the good of all. Amendments will sometimes be required in the journey of building democratic institutions.”

Commitment to reforms

He also said the ceremony is further evidence to those who may be tempted to doubt his administration’s commitment to electoral reforms.

“I have said time and again that I will not consider my personal interest or the benefit of my own political party in doing that which will secure credible elections for our people,” he said. “Our tomorrow will find excuse for our failures today especially if such failures are avoidable. As Nigerians, we must not allow ourselves to be seduced by apathy and elections injustice, the reward for such lethargy will undoubtedly be instability and underdevelopment.

Let us all commit to the protection of integrity of the electoral process as guaranteed under the law. Henceforth, the sanctity of the process should be supreme respect. The commitment of this administration to credible elections remains an article of faith.

Indeed, it is my wish that election will going forward be a festival of democracy and will be conducted peacefully as we often witness in some other parts of the world.”

INEC gets money

Shortly after the singing of the document, the Finance Minister Olusegun Aganga told pressmen that the money requested by the INEC has been paid into their account.
“I am delighted to announce to say that the amount due was released as soon as the supplementary budget was signed by the President” adding that the supplementary budget was signed last Tuesday and the money released on Wednesday.

He also added that since the primary goal of the administration is to carry out electoral reforms and that the federal government is committed to help INEC succeed, by supporting them in any way possible.
He said the process was simplified because the government does not want to take the fall if INEC fails to deliver.

“We did not want to be seen to be challenging them because if anything went wrong government will be blamed for not supporting INEC. We don’t want that” Mr. Aganga said. “I, as Finance minister, it’s my job to implement the funding side of it and I need to assure the INEC chairman every moment that whatever he needs in terms of financial support I will make it available.”

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