Group seeks NASS review of Electoral Act

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A non-governmental organisation, United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) has sought the National Assembly review of Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act, to better the country’s electoral system.

In a statement signed by the Chairman of the group, Shalom Olaseni, argued that the 150-day period that the Act stipulates was too short to travel the breadth of the country to make campaigns, adding that this encouraged parties to resort to efforts to de-market their opponents, rather than sell their candidates.

The statement reads in part: “As earlier noted, section 94(1) of the Electoral Act only permits a 150-day campaign period which terminates exactly 24 hours before Election Day proper.

“We strongly submit that the allotted 150 campaign days are too short for an all-encompassing campaign across the breadth of a large and populous nation like Nigeria with its inherent peculiarities and diversity. While not intended to excuse a poor political campaign, it may very well account in part for the ‘rush hour’ kind of politics exemplified by inter-party drives to de-market opponents within the time available much more than to sell the competence of their candidates.

“The United Global Resolve for Peace, while encouraging political parties and candidates in the election to choose the path of honour and integrity, will also be leading a policy advocacy for the review of Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act as part of an intended overhaul to better the Nigerian electoral system”.

Olaseni added that while the 150-day allotted time was enough for other contested offices such as the States’ Houses of Assembly, National Assembly seats and possibly governorship positions, the same time was not enough for presidential candidates to have inter-personal meetings, town hall meetings and rallies, which provided the candidates with the opportunity to connect with the people and for the electorate to assess the candidates.

He said the extended campaign period would give the candidates more time on the campaign trail, while also making negative campaign rhetoric less attractive over time.

It would be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) had
fixed September 28 for election campaigns by political parties.