A religious group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has described the recent re-ordering of 2019 election timetable by the National Assembly as a threat to the nation’s democracy and an attempt to undermine the independence of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
MURIC, in a statement issued by its leader, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Tuesday, therefore asked President Buhari not to sign the bill passed by the National Assembly to give legitimacy to the re-ordering of the timetable.
The group claimed members of the National Assembly were motivated by personal gains rather than the interest of the nation in the re-ordering of the election timetable from that proposed by INEC.
“The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) roundly rejects the proposed amendment of election sequence. It is belated, parochial, myopic, self-seeking, extravagant and unpatriotic. The bill is an attempt to usurp functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and intimidate the electoral body. Reordering is a threat to democracy. It is a bill from hell. Mr. President should withhold his signature,” MURIC said in the statement.
MURIC claimed that the re-ordering of the election sequence by the National Assembly will add an additional day to the days originally scheduled for the polls by INEC and additional N2 billion in expenses at a time Nigerians are suffering from economic woes.
The advised the President to channel such extra money into infrastructures or projects that would lead to the development of the country.
The group said, “At a time the country is reeling under a harsh economic situation, a proposal which extends the election from two-phases to three phases and adds an extra cost amounting to a whopping two billion naira is nothing short of a manifestation of a prodigal son mentality.”
“Nigerians should think about what this extra N2 billion can do for the country. The Federal Government recently confirmed that it pumped N2 billion into the second Niger Bridge. It has been observed that Nigerians spend three out of every ten years in traffic.
“Now, instead of wasting more money on changing the election sequence, why can’t we spend that N2 billion on building at least one pedestrian bridge in every Nigerian state capital? It will bring huge relief to road users and extend the lifespan of the average Nigerian. Unfortunately, Nigerian lawmakers are only thinking of themselves”, it added.
MURIC maintained that the National Assembly should have met with stakeholders in the electoral process to discuss the amendments to the election timetable before proposing the bill.
It also questioned why the lawmakers waited for INEC to release its timetable before coming up with the amendment.
“Again, INEC should have been consulted before proposing the bill but our lawmakers failed to do that. The proposal should have come twelve months earlier, long before INEC released its own timetable. Why did the NASS wait for so long? Is there a hidden agenda?” MURIC questioned.
MURIC therefore claimed the bill re-ordering the timetable for the 2019 general elections is the handiwork of 'confusionists' and 'anarchists.'
It added that the bill is capable of worsening electoral tension while affirming that the power to schedule and organize elections solely rest with INEC.