By Aaron Ossai
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila expressed the importance of an Electoral Offences Act in the nation’s electoral process and wished that it is signed into law before the tenure or the 9th National Assembly ends.
Addressing members on resumption of plenary after the general elections, the Speaker said “Electoral Offences Act is one area where we must take action before the culmination of the 9th House of Representatives.”
He said the Act is necessary to ensure effective enforcement against individuals and organisations whose violations of the electoral laws undermine the Constitution and threaten Nigeria’s democracy.
“A system of vigorous prosecution and punishment of electoral offenders will serve as a deterrent to others in the future and help build confidence in our elections”, he stated.
He recalled that when the Constitutional Review process in the 9th House of Representatives began, he said it would be an opportunity to achieve a constitution that resolves many issues that fracture Nigeria and hinder her progress and that last week, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law constitutional amendments enacted by the National Assembly and ratified by the state legislatures across the country.
According to him, the constitutional amendments include consequential reforms to the design and operations of the Nigerian state, particularly with regards to the devolution of powers to the states and strengthening the judiciary and legislature at the sub national level.
“Taken together, they advance the cause of our federation, bringing us closer to achieving our highest national ambitions.
“Whilst these amendments represent a significant step forward for our country, the work is not yet done because nation-building is a continuum. Each new generation must build on the efforts of the past until, by our common endeavour, we achieve a just, peaceful, and prosperous society.
“We fell short this time in our commitment to ensuring political empowerment and representation for women and other marginalised groups in our country. In the time we have left, we will work to understand why, as a first step towards ensuring the success of subsequent efforts.
Nation-building is also a joint effort, every significant advancement is the product of collaborative efforts by numerous people acting in different capacities.
“I want to especially thank my brother, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Idris for leading the Constitutional Review process with courage and determination.
“Now, our national priorities must return to the issues of governance, ensuring that the institutions of government work towards the ends of development, national security and the welfare of the Nigerian people.
“As representatives of the people, this is our highest obligation; it is a duty that persists so long as we hold office in the government of our republic. I am confident that all of us in the 9th House of Representatives recognise this and will continue to act accordingly as we have always done”, he added.