- Category: Politics
- Published on Saturday, 21 August 2010 04:38
- Written by Saturday Tribune
- Hits: 1009
Driven by his avowed commitment to ensuring the conduct of free and fair election in 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday signed into law the Electoral Act with a call on all political actors to exploit their rights and the existing democratic space in full, in pursuit of their aspirations.
His assent to the law was immediately followed by the release of N89.5 billion by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enable it begin its preparations for the election in earnest.
President Jonathan, who said he received copies of the Act three days earlier, recalled, at the signing ceremony, that he had made a commitment to Nigerians to do all that was within his powers to “preserve the sovereignty by guaranteeing the sanctity of the ballots.”
According to him, “this commitment was made because of my belief that unless the right of our people to decide who governs them is enforced and protected, politicians and government officials will not be persuaded to act at all times for the common good of all.”
Giving insight into the provisions of the Act, he added: “The Act we have just signed today introduces staggered elections in Section 25, the mood and manner of conducting party primaries and respect for party autonomy in Section 87, among others.”
He noted that although serious concerns had been raised regarding some of the sections and their capacity to constitute inspiration for expanding the nation’s democratic space, government was driven by the belief that the promise of those processes had greater potential and options to broaden and advance the country’s march to democratic freedom.
According to the president, the signing ceremony was “further evidence to those who may be tempted to doubt our commitment to electoral reforms, the commitment we gave is a matter of honour.
“Since coming into office, I have emphasised that this administration will do all that is needed to guarantee free, fair and credible elections in 2011 and beyond.
“I have said time and again that I will not consider my personal interest or the benefit of my own political party in doing that which will secure credible elections for our people,” he said.
He warned Nigerians to shun apathy as it was capable of grave consequences for the country, saying: “As Nigerians, we must not allow ourselves to be seduced by apathy and elections injustice, the reward for such lethargy will undoubtedly be instability and underdevelopment.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance has revealed that the money due to INEC has been released.
He told State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa on Friday that the release followed the directive by President Jonathan for the money to be sourced immediately.
According to him, “immediately after the INEC meeting with the National Assembly leadership and some members of the executive, the president directed that the funding for INEC should be sourced immediately. The following day, the required funds were sourced and released.
“I am delighted to announce that the amount due today was released as soon as the supplementary budget was signed by the president. The INEC chairman and I have a process to monitor progress.
We talk regularly. So, we have a very open communication, we are committed to helping INEC succeed.”