The speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has reiterated the commitment of the eighth National Assembly to re-submit the amendments of the 1999 constitution to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
The fourth constitution alteration bill had reached the executive assent stage when it was transmitted to former President Goodluck Jonathan, but could not be assented before the end of his tenure on May 29.
Mr. Dogara said the bill would be re-transmitted to the Mr. Buhari for executive assent.
A statement issued by the speaker’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, said Mr. Dogara gave this assurance when he received report of the 2015 elections from the Chief Observer of the European Union Observer Mission in Nigeria, Santiago Fisas, in his office.
Mr. Dogara said the bill was still very much alive in the National Assembly as both chambers had made provision for such legislation after amending their standing rules, noting that they would not commence a new exercise afresh.
“I wish to inform you that some of the recommendations by the Mission, such as independent candidature, has received the support of the National Assembly,” he said.
Mr. Dogara told the EU delegation that the 4th Constitution Alteration Bill in the 7th Assembly, did not only approve independent candidature, but was also supported by overwhelming vote of two-thirds majority of the State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria.
He however, regretted that the amended constitution “is one of the casualties of the non-signing of the bill by the former president.”
He assured that the National Assembly “will definitely revisit that amendment as it increases the democratic space and more citizen participation in the electoral Process.”
Nigeria, according to the Speaker, “is committed to the growing of a robust democracy that not only meets domestic aspirations but indeed that which stands the test of international best practices in a world that has been reduced into a global village.”
He commended the EU for supporting the growth of democracy in Nigeria especially through the committed participation of its Observation Mission in Nigeria’s 2015 General Elections.
In his remark, Mr. Fisas, who was accompanied by the EU ambassador to Nigeria, said the report contained 30 recommendations aimed at helping Nigeria do better in subsequent elections.
He said the EU was not trying to impose anything on Nigeria but that the recommendations were in line with both Nigerian and international law.
Among the recommendations is that the process of appointing the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, which the EU said it should be “more in-depth and thorough as an independent body.”
The EU also called for the review of voting procedure, which separates time of voting and that of accreditation.
He said between one to two million voters were disenfranchised in the 2015 elections as they could not wait to vote after accreditation.
“The recommendations were not merely invented, but are in direct response to challenges that were experienced on the field of voting,” Mr. Fisas stated.
He praised the commitment of the Nigerian people to democracy, which he said had set a model for other African countries.
The EU Chief Observer said a very rare invitation had been extended to Mr. Buhari to address the EU parliament in February.