By Christiana Ekpa
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday said that the 9th Assembly Legislative Agenda adopted the reform of the Electoral Act as one of their principal priorities, because there are evident lapses in the way the country operate its political process.
The Speaker who made this known at a one day public hearing on Repeal of the Electoral Act 2010 in Abuja, said that with the lapses in the electoral process, there is the need for it to be addressed as a matter of urgency or else they risk a situation where Nigerians across the country lose faith in the political process.
According to Gabajabiamila, this is an outcome that they as lawmakers must act to prevent by all means, because without faith in the political process, government will not have the support it needs to drive change and make necessary improvements across all sectors of our national life.
“As Speaker, I have said many times in different fora, that until we fix the way we do politics in Nigeria, we cannot fix the way we run government. And we need to fix both politics and governance before we can hope to make real progress and achieve real prosperity in our country.
“A review of our electoral processes since 1999 till date will show that there has in fact been significant improvements in both process and outcomes.
“We have recorded incremental improvements overtime. And for this, we owe a debt of gratitude to successive generations of poll workers, who often at great risk to themselves and for very little compensation have advanced the progress of our electoral systems against all odds,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said that however, the challenge they face now is that for too many Nigerians, incremental change is no longer enough, that there is an expectation that the National Assembly will lead the way in taking legislative action to deliver big, fundamental, and structural changes across the electoral process from nomination through to inauguration.
‘This is not an unreasonable expectation – after twenty years of democracy, it is not too much to expect that we will have by now established an electoral process that is efficient, reliable, and capable of delivering democratic outcomes that are beyond reproach.
“Some of the reforms of our electoral system that we hope to achieve, will not be achieved only by amending the Electoral Act. We need also to review and improve the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That process has begun and will continue alongside our legislative efforts on the Electoral Act.