10th December, 2018
DON’T SIGN AMENDED ELECTORAL BILL
The National Assembly (NASS) recently sent the amended Electoral Act to President Muhammadu Buhari. However, the latter is yet to append his signature. He has also given reasons for his action.
Meanwhile the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has waded into the matter. According to the Islamic group, President Buhari was right to withhold his signature. MURIC in a press statement issued on Monday, 10th December, 2018 hinged its decision on the closeness of the 2019 elections and the fact that the eighth national assembly could not be trusted.
“The 2019 general elections are too close for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to start implementing a new system. Last minute changes in the rules and regulations of a national election can be dangerous. Any new amendment bill is capable of causing confusion among political parties and also in INEC’s camp.
“Besides, no patriotic Nigerian can trust this NASS. What is there to trust in a NASS whose members gather for a national competition for sleeping on duty? What is there to trust in a NASS that shows no concern for the economy and delays budgets up to seven months? How can any patriotic Nigerian repose confidence in a NASS that cuts budget in ten critical areas of the economy only to add those cuts to its own? This NASS is anti-people and its amendment to the Electoral Act is suspicious.
“We strongly support President Muhammadu Buhari for not signing the amendment. It should be properly scrutinized. We suspect that the NASS has a hidden agenda as usual. This set of lawmakers has been working for a particular interest group whose objective is to rock the boat of the present administration. Their strong link with anti-June 12 elements, their romance with politicians facing corruption charges and their hobnobbing with the predominantly bourgeois political class reveal where they are coming from.
MURIC poured out its disappointment with the NASS. “A NASS that can tinker with the money allocated to Lagos-Ibadan expressway is not worth the salt. This expressway is the only link between the North and the South and millions of Nigerians have been suffering there for more than fifteen years. Is there any member of the NASS who has never used that ‘distress’ road? Have they forgotten so soon because they are now lawmakers?
“It is unimaginable that any Nigerian lawmaker will think of cutting the amount allocated to the Lagos-Ibadan ‘distressway’ project. It is a crime against the masses who ply that road on a daily basis. It is almost an unforgivable sin as the bad road has claimed hundreds of lives in the past. Those lawmakers need to seek Allah’s forgiveness because the blood of the innocent accident victims cries out for justice.
“The Lagos-Ibadan rail-line would have been completed this December 2018 but for the delay of the budget by the NASS. It is strongly suspected that the delay was deliberate. Since the leadership of the NASS is working for reactionary elements who are hostile to the present administration, the delay was calculated to slow down progress of projects being executed by the government in order to diminish the latter’s chances in the 2019 general election.
“But that only exposes the lawmakers as selfish politicians and the NASS leadership as manifesting a pathological desertification of statesmanship. The truth is that while politicians think of the next election, statesmen think of the general interest of the people. Statesmen think of the next generation, nay, of future generations. That is why the NASS leadership was keen on delaying the budget for so long while brainwashing the members and blackmailing the presidency at the same time.
“A NASS that can fiddle with the money allocated to the counter-part funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project cannot be taken serious. N11.5 billion was cut from those projects and added to the budget of the NASS.
This is a NASS that is bent on selling Nigeria to its members. How can we still trust them with our Electoral Act? The most irrational cut occurred in the provision for the construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport which was cut from N2 billion to N500 million. The NASS exposed its insensitivity when it allowed the cuts to affect the Maritime University in Delta State despite the educational backwardness of the Delta area. Even the National Housing Scheme was cut by about N7.8 billion.
“Apart from cutting N347 billion Naira in the allocations and adding other projects of their own amounting to N578 billion, they also increased the budget estimate from N8.6 trillion submitted by the President in November 2017 to N9.120 trillion when they passed it in May 2018.
“The question MURIC is asking the tiny cabal is whether 200 million Nigerians were born to serve them and their offsprings forever. For Allah’s sake, what have we done to deserve this injustice? Just 1% of the Nigerian population controls more than 85% of the total wealth, leaving a whole 99% of the population comprising of highly educated and hardworking Nigerians to struggle for a paltry15% of the wealth.
“In spite of the allocation of this gargantuan portion of the common wealth to itself, it is shocking that the NASS cannot pay its own workers. The demonstrations staged by its workers a few days ago have exposed the leadership of the NASS as slave-drivers who pay pittance to its workers and feudal lords who do not care about the welfare of its workers. We are however not surprised because lawmakers who care little for the nation cannot be expected to care for its workers. It is a shame that the same leadership want to rule Nigeria.
The present NASS is the worst in the history of this country. This is a NASS that goes on recess at the slightest excuse. It is either because the microphone is not working properly or the electricity is not bright enough. Who should be blamed if any equipment in the NASS fails to work? Where does the buck stop? A whole NASS may suspend sitting because a single lawmaker has a case in court. Its members would have been enjoying immunity by now but for the Tsunami of public outcry which greeted the attempt to enact a bill for that purpose.
“We wonder what this NASS takes Nigerians for. Do they think we have been hit by an outbreak of general amnesia which makes us forget what unpatriotic lawmakers have done to our country? Or do they assume that we have been hit by an epidemic of dementia that affects our sense of judgement such that we will now be supporting them and blaming the presidency?
“As we draw the curtain, we appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to protect Nigerians from this electoral trap designed by the NASS. Mr. President should not sign. An electoral munble-jumble is the least expected of Africa’s giant. This new amendment bill is capable of causing confusion even in INEC’s camp because it has not been tested and because the general election is too close for changes to be effected in the law guiding elections. We therefore advise that the proposed amendments should be scrutinized by both the presidency and INEC and kept in view (KIV) for the 2023 general elections if found viable”.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)