Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila said voter education and enlightenment could help increase voter turnout in the upcoming general elections in 2023.
Gbajabiamila has also proposed amendments to the Constitution and electoral law to regulate political spending and impose penalties.
The President took the call to the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House on Thursday, where he presented a paper on “Consolidating Nigerian Democracy: Prospects for Strengthening Nigerian Electoral Systems Ahead of the 2023 Elections.”
This is according to a statement released Friday by the President’s Special Adviser for Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, titled “2023: Addressing Voter Apathy Will Improve Election Outcomes – Gbajabiamila… Stresses the need to reform laws on campaign finance.
Gbajabiamila said, “Voter education and enlightenment campaigns can help increase voter turnout, making more people believe that voting has power and that a ballot can change the course of a nation and improve the conditions of its people.
“Strengthening citizen participation also means ensuring that the diversity of the nation is reflected in the composition of its political actors. The variety of voices, perspectives and experiences can only improve the quality of the debate and improve the quality of the results.
Speaking on the need to review the country’s campaign laws, particularly in the area of election finance, he said: “Obviously we need to reform our campaign finance laws and the whole system. through which we finance politics and political operations in the country. This would require changes to both the Constitution and the electoral law.
“To be effective, such campaign finance reform legislation will impose a financial reporting mandate on candidates and campaigns and impose stiff penalties on violators,” Gbajabiamila said.
The president noted that this could help clean up the flow of money in the political process. “But there is a real risk that this will end up making the process more expensive by creating regulatory compliance costs. So as we consider this option, we will also consider others and remain open to new ideas,” he added.
Gbajabiamila listed some of the steps taken by the National Assembly to ensure substantial improvement in the Nigerian electoral system, stating, “After each electoral cycle, the National Assembly has taken steps to document experiences, extrapolate lessons learned and, on this basis, change the electoral system. laws to fill gaps and remove bottlenecks.
“Every electoral amendment effort reflects a thoughtful attempt to provide a stronger statutory framework for elections. From internal party processes to the final declaration of results and even pre- and post-election litigation.
“At the same time, the Independent National Electoral Commission has shown over the past decade a remarkable willingness to learn from its own mistakes, embrace new technologies, engage stakeholders and take proactive measures to ensure public confidence in the electoral process.
“They and the Legislature have often been aided in our joint endeavors by the aid and support of our international friends who understand that Nigerian democracy has been hard won and deserves to be protected by all prudent and necessary means. “.
The President also mentioned the efforts made by parliament and the government as a whole to ensure that the upcoming elections are free, fair and credible.
He said: “In the Appropriation Bill 2022, the legislature has made provisions to enable both INEC and the security agencies to make adequate plans for these eventualities.
“And I’m aware that in addition to funding issues, efforts are already underway to prepare for the unique challenges we face as we plan to hold free, fair and credible elections across the country.”
Acknowledging that democracy in Nigeria is still young and fragile, Gbajabiamila said maintaining it requires dedicated efforts as the success or failure of the 2023 elections would impact the people of Nigeria, the African continent and, indeed, the world.
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