The confusion trailing the reworking of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by the National Assembly (NASS) is hardly surprising. It is in tandem with our peculiar pattern of playing selfish politics, a politics construed to permanently keep backward our political development. It may even be in our DNA. The ongoing drama over the electoral bill is deliberate. The unfolding drama of the absurd is simply meant to truncate the birthing of the new bill before the next election so that the ruling party can have enough space to rig the election and impose whoever it wants on Nigerians. Nigerians must resist such a deceitful and devilish game plan.
It is unfortunate that the Senate has added consensus option of primary in addition to direct and indirect modes of primary to the electoral bill instead of direct and indirect primaries, while the House of Representatives added direct and indirect primaries and rejected consensus option. Irrespective of what comes out of the harmonization of the positions of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the issue, the confusion has been created for the president to again reject the electoral bill so that the 2023 election will be conducted without the electronic transmission of election results.
It is likely that the APC is planning for a repeat of what happened in 2018 when President Muhammadu Buhari refused to sign into law the electoral bill citing that the bill is too close to the 2023 poll and some typographical errors in the sent bill. Nigerians must rise up against this ugly development before it is too late. We have had so many political afflictions, we need no more. Enough is enough. What is playing out in the polity with regard to the electoral bill is an apt illustration of what the late Afrobeat King, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, would dub Confusion Break Bone (C.B.B.) in one of his moving and classical songs of the same title. In fact, it is confusion galore in the land. It is sad that when Nigerians had expected the 9th NASS to just add the direct and indirect modes of primaries options for political parties to select their candidates for election, the honourable members in the Senate went ahead to add the consensus option which nobody asked for and which Nigerians didn’t contemplate. And if the president refuses to sign the bill into law, as being feared in certain quarters, then we are back to square one. The current foot-dragging and break-dance over the electoral bill is a grand design to derail the 2023 election. What does the Senate mean by consensus mode of primary?
It is nothing but impunity where one big man in the party can just put his preferred candidate and regale us with the tale that it was a product of consensus. We have seen such happen in the past. In a polity of kingmakers and where political positions have become lifelong ambitions of some people, consensus mode of primary is a recipe for political disaster and anarchy. It is becoming apparent that there are people among our politicians who are hell-bent to derail our nascent democracy and drag the country backward by so many years.
Some of these shameless people, who are equally heartless, are probably the ones dictating what is happening in the National Assembly. They are the ones deliberately orchestrating confusion over the reworking of the electoral bill. There are some politicians who are not comfortable with the introduction of electronic transmission of election results, an antidote to rigging. And because they don’t want our elections to be transparent, free and fair, that is why they are doing everything possible to thwart the birthing of the electoral bill so that it will still be business as usual in this land of the living and the dead.
Perhaps, these unpatriotic politicians are behind the rumoured different versions of the electoral bill. Could the NASS fish out those behind the different versions of the electoral bill and punish them adequately? How can Nigerians take the 9th NASS serious if they are working against their wishes and aspirations? The prevailing confusion over everything in Nigeria, including electoral bill, removal of fuel subsidy, inauguration of NDDC board, the ownership of crude oil, Petroleum Industry Act, indigene and settler dichotomy, agitation for self-determination and so many others that space constraint will not permit to be mentioned, the imperative of restructuring the country is no longer in doubt even by those who claim that they don’t understand what the term or concept means.
Those, who feigned ignorance of the meaning of restructuring, are liars and enemies of the state. They are responsible for our backwardness. It would have been ideal if we resolve all these issues breeding confusion in the polity before the 2023 elections. But time is no longer there to do some of these things which will likely feature in election campaigns soon.
Let the 9th NASS prove that it is not a rubberstamp of the executive arm of the government by taking a decisive action on the electoral bill even if it means overriding the president. Let NASS members show that they are indeed all honourable men and women by removing the consensus option and allow the direct and indirect modes of primaries in the bill for the president to sign. There is no more time to waste. They must do this expeditiously and save the polity and our politics from the looming chaos and anarchy. As honourable men and women, they must rise to the occasion. They must not fail Nigerians. Members of their constituencies are watching and looking up to them to do the needful.
President Muhammadu Buhari should not sit and allow some crude politicians derail his promise before the world and Nigerians to bequeath a legacy of credible election in the country before he retires to his farm in Daura, Katsina State. Those working to truncate the electoral bill are not in tune with the president’s vision. They are working against it. They want President Buhari to fail in this regard.
They also want the country to fail woefully. They want this democracy to fail as well. If the electoral bill is not harmonized and quickly signed by President Buhari, the promise of a free and fair election will be a ruse, a huge joke. This is where those advising the president should come in and do something urgently before things start falling apart in the polity. Already, the country is having crisis in all the geo-political zones.
Insecurity is all over the place and literally walking in the streets. Terrorists are having a field day in the North West zone, especially in Zamfara State where they levy taxes on Nigerians. Boko Haram members are terrorizing the North East. In the South East, the story is not rosy as well. Therefore, history beckons on the NASS and the President to rise to the occasion and do what will be acceptable to all Nigerians.