By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The United Kingdom (UK) has urged Nigeria to ensure quick passage and enactment of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill currently pending before the National Assembly.
UK’s Minister for Africa James Duddridge gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Duddridge said that passing the amendment bill would build more confidence in the country’s electoral process.
According to him, confidence in election results plays a very important role in democratic governance.
“It is very important. I will meet the senate and I will be asking when the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is going to be passed.
“You Know, democracy is not a static thing. It has to evolve; you have to make elections increasingly secure.
“So, I think it is really important to make an Act that will give the Nigerian people and the international community greater confidence that the elections are free, fair, and a reflection of what the people voted.
“If you have not got that in actuality or perception, democracy starts to crumble and we see where that leads.
“Democracy is the main pillar alongside a capitalist free market that drives social progress and allows us to function,” he said.
According to him, one of the components that build confidence in the electoral process is the electronic transmission of results such that the final results declared correspond with each of the local results.
He said that though the UK was interested in seeing Nigeria’s democracy become stronger, it could only play an advisory role and not dictate to Nigeria what it should do.
“We can offer practical advice on election processes working with Non-Governmental Organisations and youth groups to make sure that young people are not only more likely to be registered for elections but also that their voices are heard.
“In the UK parliament, we have got members of parliament in their 20s and it is the richer for it.
“We wouldn’t want a parliament full of 20-year-olds.
“Equally, we do not want a parliament full of 70 and 80-year-olds.
“We need a balance to reflect society and everyone brings different experiences,” he said.