President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said there will be reduced electoral violence during the 2023 general elections when the amended version of the Electoral Act is passed in June this year.
Lawan gave the assurance on Tuesday while fielding questions after delivering a lecture at the National Defence College Course 29 Programme in Abuja.
According to the Senate President, the Electoral Act under amendment by the Ninth National Assembly will provide for an Electoral Offences Commission, charged particularly with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders.
He added that the piece of legislation, when passed and signed into law, would among other things, empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct transparent elections in Nigeria.
“Let me give some commendation to the National Assembly for continuously working on the Electoral Act to provide for a better Electoral environment in Nigeria,” Lawan said.
“All the improvement we have added was as a result of legislation passed by the National Assembly, and of course, supported by the Executive.
“This is going to be a continuous effort because electoral violence is largely a product of either genuine or misinformation of iniquity or some kind of conspiracy against certain persons during elections.
“But I also believe – and that is the position of the National Assembly generally – that we should have the Electoral Offences Commission so that people who are involved in electoral violence will be prosecuted.
“I believe that it will go a long way in reducing and minimizing all these tendencies of people taking the laws into their hands.
“But in addition, we are currently working on the Electoral Act, we want to amend it and we intend to achieve the amendment before June or thereabout.
“Our intention in the National Assembly with this is to further sanitize the electoral environment and empower the election management body (INEC) to conduct seamless, transparent and very open sort of election where a winner is very happy that he is a winner and a loser will be glad that he lost in a very fair contest.
“So, we are working on this and we hope that the 2023 General Elections will see less of electoral violence because the law itself would have been further improved.”
Speaking earlier during the lecture, the Senate President attributed the challenges faced by the Federal Government to various types of discolouration from conspiracies woven around political, ethnic and religious sentiments.
He, therefore, cautioned Nigerian leaders to deploy strategic leadership tact needed for the realization of developmental initiatives that accommodate the national interest.
“For us particularly in this country, strategic political leadership is imperative for development. You can’t but deploy it, and leaders must be strategic. And, it is required even more in countries like ours where the challenges of development are most.
“Unfortunately, almost every issue you bring in Nigeria would rather have or would be given either political, ethnic, geopolitical or religious colouration.
“So, it makes governance tough. It gives leadership massive challenges because such colourations complicate the issues.
“Issues that could easily be relative and understood with little effort become so enmeshed in controversies that it may take you time to recover, and probably you may not even recover at all.
“This is an opportunity for me to appeal to all of us in political leadership that our responsibility to the people of Nigeria must remain the one and only critical factor for taking decisions.
“The national interest must override any other interest because it is the interest of the majority of the people of the country. If we do that, chances are that we will always get it right.
“I think it will be unpardonable for anyone to think that you can create controversies around the government’s development programmes or projects. Let there be progressive and positive criticisms. Let’s allow the government a chance,” Lawan said.
By Abel Ejikeme