Electoral reform: We’ve been used, dumped, Nnamani panel cries out

Electoral reform: We’ve been used, dumped, Nnamani panel cries out

A member of the committee on Constitution and Electoral Reform set up by President Muhammadu Buhari last year to review the electoral system in the country has expressed concern that its report may end up in the achive to gather dust like other reports on electoral reforms before it.

The source also complained about the handling of the welfare of the 24-member committee, saying, “we’ve been used and dumped with our report.”

The 24-member Committee headed by former Senate president, Ken Nnamani, was conceived “to review electoral environment, laws and experiences from recent elections conducted in Nigeria and make recommendations to strengthen and achieve the conduct of free and fair elections in Nigeria.”

While inaugurating the committee on October 4, 2016, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said President Muhammadu Buhari had in his inauguration speech stated his desire to deepen the country’s democracy and entrench the culture of an enduring electoral system.

“It is important to evaluate our democratic journey thus far with a view to fashioning out a more enduring system that will serve present and future generations,” he said.

The committee, according to its mandate, was to deliver its report in ten weeks, but the failure of government to release funds for its operations led to a delay.

Speaking to newsmen in Abuja at the weekend, the source accused government of neglect.

“We have been used and dumped. The government has not paid a kobo for the work we did and the report which we submitted over two months ago.”

Chairman of the committee, Senator Nnamani had also expressed similar concern while submitting the report of the committee to the minister on May 2.

He said the work of the committee was delayed because government did not release the funds necessary for its operations, adding that the committee had to fall back on some international donors like the DFID and NDI for financial assistance to perform the assignment.

Responding to a reporters’ question on why the committee members have not been paid for the committees work at a press conference two weeks ago, the minister said the approval for payment had been secured and if the members were not paid as at the time he was talking to the press, they would soon be paid.

However, some members of the committee who spoke to newsmen at the weekend, insisted that no payment has been made to them.

Apart from the non-payment of their allowances, the members are disturbed that their report may be dumped because the government has not taken concrete steps to ensure legislative deliberation and approval of the recommendations contained in the report.

“They have not taken our report for legislative action to the National Assembly which has been passing bills on electoral reforms of late. If they did not want our report to be put to use, why did they waste our time?” the source queried.

Also at the press conference two weeks ago, Malami confirmed that the Executive arm had not forwarded any bill to the National Assembly based on the Nnamani committee report because the Federal Executive Council was yet to list the report for its deliberations. He, however, revealed that the executive was using the report to sound out the National Assembly on the recommendations contained in the report.

He further revealed that apart from writing a report, the committee also recommended bills to be forwarded to the National assembly adding that all action on these bills will have to wait till the Federal Executive Council deliberates on them.

When contacted last night to react to the “used and dumped” claim made by a member of the committee against the government, Senator Nnamani declined comment. He refused to be drawn into whether the allegations were correct or otherwise.

“I have no comment. I don’t want to be involved in this issue. I want to be left alone,” he said and switched off his phone.


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