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Nigeria Parliament to Consider President Yar’Adua’s Electoral Reform Bill


Some Nigerians worry about chaos and anarchy if electoral reforms promised by President Umaru Yar'Adua are not implemented before elections next year. Over the weekend, President Yar'Adua urged parliament to pass his electoral reform legislation quickly to avoid a repeat of a recently botched election in Nigeria's southwestern Ekiti state. This comes after the electoral body delayed the gubernatorial election in Ekiti when voting was disrupted by what were reported as security threats from politicians and their gangs.

Legislator Abdul Kadr told VOA that parliament would consider the interests of ordinary Nigerians while deliberating President Yar'Adua's electoral reforms.

"You see, the parliament now has a very good and a cordial relationship with the president. The president has so far not done anything that the parliament might look at as a subversion of their functions. So as soon as that (electoral) bill comes to the assembly, particularly the House of Representatives, I'm very sure the House will give it all the impetus it deserves to be passed. Because it is an issue that Nigerians are eager to dispose off," Kadr said.

He said parliament would be thorough with the president's electoral bill.

"We would have to see the bill. There are other laws in the country. When one law goes contrary to the constitution, the House must look at conditions and rectify it or have a way to go around it legally before it could be passed. But I'm very sure as soon as that comes to the national assembly, it would be given the necessary urgency it deserves," he said.

Kadr said parliament would not be bullied into hurrying the electoral bill process.

"You see, with the kind of situation we find ourselves in, urgency is not the issue. Doing the right things is the issue. I do not think this national assembly would be stampeded into doing anything that would at the end of the day not be favorable for the common man in the street," Kadr said.

He said legislators are enthusiastic to see that Nigerian citizens' interests are paramount.

"But then we are also eager to see that the electoral reform bill comes to the national assembly and we give it the necessary attention it deserves and pass it accordingly," Kadr said.

He said there are no indications that the electoral reform bill would face stiff challenge.

"I do not think it will be any problem in passing that bill. Bearing in mind that Nigerians are looking it," he said.

Soon after being sworn after a controversial win President Yar'Adua promised to institute electoral reforms after the April 2007 federal polls, which brought him to power.

Yar'Adua's cabinet in March sent parliament a draft electoral reform bill that included independent funding for Nigeria's electoral commission, breaking the agency up so it can better focus on electoral conduct and prosecution of election riggers.

Both local and international poll observers described the 2007 election as not meeting international standards, saying the process was significantly flawed by ballot-stuffing and voter irregularities.

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