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Electoral Bill: 247 groups protest, allege doctoring of original copy

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The Electoral Bill 2021, which aims to repeal the Electoral Act No 6 2010 and re-enact a new Act, is set to be passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. However, the alleged final copy of the Bill has been manipulated and is at variance with the approved version of the Bill which represents citizens’ demands.

Some key provisions of the manipulated Bill that are particularly worrying are: the prohibition of electronic transmission of results (Section 50(2)); the removal of INEC’s power to review results declared under duress or in contravention of electoral laws and guidelines (Section 65); and the drastic increase in the limits for campaign expenses from N1 billion to N15 billion for President, N2 million to N5 billion for Governor, N40 million to N1.5 billion for Senate, N30 million to N500 million for House of Representatives, and N10 million to N50 million for State House of Assembly (Section 88)

These provisions have the potential to undermine transparency and fairness in elections. This affects women disproportionately for two main reasons: Women rarely get the tickets for the ‘big parties’ and often their hope lies with the smaller parties. Women typically have less financial resources than their male counterparts. Regarding the issue of women relying on smaller parties, the 2019 general elections provide a good illustration as there was an increase in the number of women candidates compared to 2015, but a decrease in the number of women who actually got elected.

According to a report by Center for Democracy and Development, one reason for this discrepancy is that many of the women candidates were contesting on the platform of smaller parties, which meant that they had less chances of winning. Increasing fairness and transparency in elections would reduce the disadvantage that larger parties have over smaller parties, and help to level the playing field. In turn, this should have an indirect effect on improving women’s chances of winning elections.

In order to improve the political representation of women, we therefore demand that the original provisions of the Electoral Bill 2021 be reinstated. INEC should be empowered to electronically transmit results and review results declared under duress so as to reduce the level of electoral malpractices that have become so common in our country.

If the mainstream political parties and candidates are prevented from manipulating election results, smaller parties and women candidates will stand a better chance at winning elections. Furthermore, the original limits on campaign expenses should be upheld to prevent elections being won by the highest bidder. This is particularly important for women who typically have less access to financial resources or sponsorship compared to their male counterparts.

Ultimately, our demands are intended to benefit not just women but also the country as a whole, since they are aimed at improving electoral integrity. We call on the National Assembly to address these demands as a matter of urgency and ensure that the original Bill, rather than the manipulated one, is passed on Tuesday, 6 July 2021.

We the undersigned organisations and individuals are members of the Feminist Womanifesto Group: 100 Women Lobby Group9jafeministaAbiodun Essiet Initiative for GirlsAbove Whispers FoundationAbove Whispers Media FoundationAction Aid NigeriaActionAid InternationalACTS Generation GBVAde Grange Child FoundationADEM Community & Human Development FoundationAdinya Arise Foundation (AAF)Advocate for Health and Development InitiativeAfrican Women&#39’s Initiative/ Verity CNETAfrican Women’s Initiative (AWI)Ajegunle Community ProjectAjoke Ayisat Afolabi FoundationAlliances for Africa (AfA)Aminchi Women Cooperative SocietyARDA Development Communication Inc.Arise Nigerian Woman Foundation.ASWHANATATA Development and Empowerment Foundation (ADEF)Ayisha OsoriAyodeji FadugbaBaobab for Women’s Human RightsBLECCA FoundationBring Back Our GirlsBriskila Emefesi Women Foundation (BEWOF)Cece Yara FoundationCedar Seed FoundationCEE-HOPE NigeriaCenter for Economic Empowerment and Gender Activities (CEEGA)Centre for Alternative Development and Self-Enhancement (CEADESE NG)Centre for Health and Development in Africa(CHEDA)Centre for Nonviolence and Gender Advocacy in Nigeria (CENGAIN)Centre for Peace Education and Community DevelopmentCentre for Women’s Health and Information (CEWHIN)Change Managers International NetworkCharity Women Spring of SalvationChedal Multi-Purpose Cooperative SocietyChild Care and Adult Protection Initiative (CCAPI)Choung-Dung Women Association.Christian Women for Excellence and Empowerment in Nigerian Society (CWEENS)Christian Women in Nigerian PoliticsCitizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR)Community and Youth DevelopmentCommunity Education Advancement of Peace and Development Initiative (CEAPDI)Community Initiative for Healthy and Peaceful SocietyCommunity Life Project (CLP)Community Rescue Initiative (CRI)Community Women InitiativesCountry Associates NetworkCourageous People Health and Development Initiative (CPHDL)Crestville Development FoundationDevelopment in Practice Gender and Entrepreneurial Initiative (DIPGEI)Diaspora Womanifesto2019Dinidari FoundationDorothy Njemanze FoundationDream Alive Women and Orphans Support Foundation (DAWOS Foundation)Ebere IfenduEchoes of Women in Africa InitiativesEdo Women&#39’s Development InitiativeEducation As A Vaccine (EVA)EiE NigeriaEmerge Women Development Initiative Empowerment and Action Research CentreEquality Through Education Foundation (ETEF)Equity Advocates (EA)Equity Advocates FACICP Disability PlusFAME FoundationFederal Ministry of Justice, AbujaFederal Ministry of Women AffairsFederation of Informal Workers of Nigeria (FIWON)Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN)Federation of Paralegal Network (FEDPAN)Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)Fembridge Development Initiative (FEDI)FIDA NigeriaFirst Future LeadershipFirst Future Leadership Company/GTEFOMWANForward in Action for Education, Poverty and Malnutrition (FACE-PAM)FREDFunke BaruwaGender Action Awareness TrustGender and Constitution Reform Network (GECORN)Gender and Development Action (GADA)Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative(GERI)Gender Awareness Trust (GAT)Gender Development InitiativeGender Equality CenterGender Equality, Peace and Development CentreGender Equality, Peace and Development CentreGender Technical Unit (GTU)Girl Child Advocacy and Education Initiatives

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