CSOs accuse Gbajabiamila for alleged betrayal of Nigerians over dropping of Electoral Bill

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House of Representatives

CSOs accuse Gbajabiamila for alleged betrayal of Nigerians over dropping of Electoral Bill

…call for his resignation

…urge Nigerians to fight, salvage democracy

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AS Nigerians expect a fair political deal ahead of 2023 general elections, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, under the auspices of Society Partners on Electoral Reform, Wednesday, accused the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, over alleged dropping of Electoral Act Amendment Bill to pass the 2022 Appropriation Bill into law.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative, Ariyo-Dare Atoye; Speak Out Africa Initiative, Ken Eze; Raising New Voices, Jude Feranmi; and Executive Director, Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative Obinna Eze Nwagbara.

The statement also alleged that the Speaker arm-twisted the Senate to stop further action on the bill even when the Senate was even ready to do more in the interest of the nation’s democracy over alleged “personal and narrow political interest.”

The statement reads in part, “The action of the Speaker in hurryingly passing the 2022 Appropriation Act and adjourning the House to next year, amounted to a betrayal of trust and arm-twisting of the Senate to stop further action on the bill even when the red chamber was ready to do more.

“The Senate had passed a version of the Electoral Bill that accommodated the two choices of party primaries, but Gbajabiamila single-handedly led the National Assembly and Nigerians into adopting and appreciating the importance of the Direct Primaries, will be the first to chicken out.

“Some legislative activism was expected in the House over the President’s letter, but that the Speaker made it impossible.

“We wish to ask Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila some salient questions: why did you make the entire country to buy into the idea of the direct primaries in the first place? Is this a conspiracy with the President to scuttle the entire electoral bill or the fear of the executive?

“Remember the exclusive retention of direct primaries in the electoral act was first his idea, so why did Speaker Gbajabiamila deliberately refuse to consult the Senate to take a common position before adjourning over such a sensitive bill that has enjoyed the cooperation and support of the two chambers? In whose interest is the Speaker acting?”

The CSOs further asked the Speaker to resign his position, “Nigerians have lost total confidence in Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. This is the time for him to step down and stop using national legislative business to serve narrow partisan interest.

“We urge members of the 9th House of Representatives to redeem themselves from the narrow hold of the Speaker.”

The CSOs, however, commended the Senate for standing courageously with Nigerians against President Muhammadu Buhari’s action.

The CSOs in the statement also assured the National Assembly of Nigerians’ support and mandate to override the President to pass the Electoral Amendment Act Bill into law.

“Against the expectations of many Nigerians, the Senate demonstrated courage and has shown that they are with the people on this bill and we shall continue to encourage them.

“The excuses given by President Muhammadu Buhari in his withholding letter are watery, shallow and suspect. The letter may have exposed the President as capable of using insecurity not to conduct the 2023 elections”, the statement added.

Meanwhile, the statement called on Nigerians not to be cowed but, “Nigerians must be prepared to fight and salvage this democracy.”

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