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Gbajabiamila hails conduct of 2023 elections, highlights areas for improvements



Gbajabiamila hints at removal of direct primary clause from Electoral Act Amendment Bill

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the just-concluded 2023 elections were markedly different from the previously conducted ones in the country.

This was despite the criticism by a number of Nigerians that the elections were in different states of the federation evidently marred by a number of irregularities.

Gbajabiamila, who spoke at the resumption of plenary from election break on Tuesday, noted that the passage of electoral laws impacted positively on the elections.

He, however, reiterated the urgent need for the passage of Electoral Offences Act to facilitate effective enforcement against electoral offenders, eulogizing the roles of INEC and security agencies on the exercise.

Gbajabiamila said: “The 2023 general elections have effectively come to an end, with the exception of those areas where the electoral body has declared elections inconclusive or scheduled reruns. As I said two weeks ago, this has been a hard-fought election season. Expectedly, the declaration of results will not by itself suffice to assuage the passions or calm the tensions aroused by this electoral competition.

Read also:Ethnicity, religion influenced outcome of Nigeria’s parliamentary election – Gbajabiamila

“For that, we need time and the deliberate efforts of political, religious, social and economic leaders acting in recognition of the fact that while elections will come and go, our highest imperative remains the progress of Nigeria and the prosperity of her people.

“Any objective assessment of these elections will show marked improvements from prior outings. This is not to suggest perfection but to acknowledge evident progress in our collective efforts to ensure elections we can all be proud of.

“Amendments to our nation’s electoral laws by the legislature, pronouncements by the judiciary and operational reforms by the electoral commission have significantly improved elections in Nigeria since 1999. The amendments to the Electoral Act by the 9th National Assembly have been particularly instrumental in improving the elections process through the use of technology tools to facilitate voter accreditation and transmission of results.

“With each new election season, we become more aware of areas requiring changes to ensure a better outing next time. This process of ongoing reform and continuous improvement must continue. As a necessary first step, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should collaborate with stakeholders to conduct a meticulous assessment of the election process. This is necessary to inform further reforms and improvements.

“The Electoral Offences Act is one area where we must take action before the culmination of the 9th House of Representatives. The Act is necessary to ensure effective enforcement against individuals and organisations whose violations of our electoral laws undermine our constitution and threaten our democracy. A system of vigorous prosecution and punishment of electoral offenders will serve as a deterrent to others in the future and help build confidence in our elections.”

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