From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) which is the umbrella body of Catholic Bishops in Nigeria has “picked holes” in the 2022 electoral act recently signed by the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
It also observed some lapses in the 1999 constitution being used to pilot the affairs of Nigeria, suggesting a sincere approach to the ongoing amendment process of the constitution.
CBCN described the new electoral act as a refined document that would, expectedly, guarantee improved electoral system, thereby, encouraging more people to participate in the electoral process.
The body was particularly happy that the use of technology was included in the new electoral act, but registered concerns that such technological innovations might not guarantee smooth electoral process that would herald free, fair and credible elections.
CBCN in a communique released at the end of its first plenary meeting, in Abuja, suggested strict compliance to the law and proper monitoring of its implementation to achieve the expected result.
The communique jointly signed by Archbishop Augustine Akubueze and Rev Fr. Camillus Umoh, CBCN President and Secretary, respectively, commended the efforts of the National Assembly, the President, and all who made it possible for Nigeria to have a reformed electoral law, the Electoral Act 2022.
It explained: “the Constitution of any nation is the primary law that provides for the organization and direction of the actions of governments about the welfare of citizens. Unarguably, a faulty Constitution can breed rancour, discontent, and underdevelopment.
“We thank the Government for initiating processes towards reforming our national Constitution handed down to us by the military Government. We urge the legislature and the executive to exercise their relevant roles to give the nation an adequate Constitution that reflects our common aspiration to live in unity, justice, and peace.
“Similarly, we appreciate the commitment of members of the National Assembly, the President, and other stakeholders that culminated in the new electoral law. We are optimistic that if well and sincerely implemented, this law will engender a better democracy in which there will be free, fair and transparent elections, through which people choose leaders that would serve their common good.
“We gladly welcome the adoption of modern technology to improve the quality of our electoral process. However, technology may not necessarily guarantee free and fair elections. We, therefore, draw attention to the need for sincerity and vigilance over the accuracy and objective use of the technology being adopted.
“We encourage good and qualified people with the right intention to vie for political offices. We ask all eligible citizens to secure their voter’s cards and come out en masse to vote for those who can lead them to a better life.
“We demand that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) register only qualified people and ensure that people’s votes count, and their mandates are respected. We also urge the electoral commission and other relevant bodies to organize and promote appropriate voter education.”
CBCN in the communique lamented the rising insecurity across the country in spite of several calls for Federal Government to take actions that would herald end to the insecurity.
“We are deeply saddened that kidnapping, abductions, armed robbery, assassinations and other incidents of shedding innocent blood have continued often without prompt and adequate response from the government and the security agencies.”