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.
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,"
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
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.