Electronic transmission: INEC commends National Assembly

•Seeks early passage of Electoral Act

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has formally commended both chambers of the National Assembly for taking a uniform position on the vexed issue of electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021.

Professor Yakubu gave the commendation on Thursday in his goodwill message at the meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives Conference Committee on the Electoral Act.

Investigation revealed that the Senate which had earlier vested the nation telecommunication regulatory agency, the National Communication Commission with the power to decide on electronic transmission recently reversed itself as it agreed with the lower chamber to pass the clause, without the controversial provision, as proposed by the Joint Committee of Senate and House of Representatives on INEC led by Senator Kabiru Gaya.

The INEC Chairman however called on the lawmakers to restrain from any provisions that could restrict or frustrate the Commission in seizing initiative for technological innovations.

He said: “Understandably, the issue of technology in elections has dominated recent public discussions in Nigeria. The Commission appreciates the decision of the National Assembly to empower INEC to determine and deploy appropriate technology in future elections. For us in INEC, this is one of the progressive decisions by our National Assembly. As you finalise the Electoral Amendment Bill, I urge you to continue to endow the Commission with the power to determine what technology to deploy in our elections at the appropriate time. One way of doing so is to make broad provisions of the law that will empower the Commission to continue to innovate without restricting us to a specific technology such as the Smart Card Reader which could in due course become obsolete, inapplicable, or irrelevant as is already the case following the recent introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) by the Commission.”

Professor Yakubu who recalled that the Commission has only 484 days to the 2023 General Election, further appealed to the National Assembly Conference Committee on the Electoral Act to expedite action on its assignment to ensure its passage.
The INEC Chairman maintained that without the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021, the electoral umpire would be seriously constrained in making regulations and guidelines for the general elections.

“The Commission looks forward to the conclusion of the process without which we cannot make the Regulations and Guidelines to give effect to the provisions of the law. Without the Regulations and Guidelines, we cannot finalise the manuals for the training of officials that will conduct elections.

“There are extensive provisions in the current Bill that require clear guidance by the Commission. With only 484 days to the 2023 General Election, time is of the essence. In addition to the Anambra State Governorship election held on 6th November 2021, the Commission has already scheduled three major elections to be conducted next year. First is the Area Council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) held on 12th February 2022, followed by the Ekiti Governorship election on 18th June 2022 and the Osun Governorship election a month later on 16th July 2022. The Commission also has five pending bye-elections made up of three Federal Constituencies and two State Constituencies to contend with.

“​I want to assure you that in a proactive manner, the Commission has been studying aspects of the amendment Bill and identifying areas that require the formulation of regulations and guidelines as well as the review of prescribed forms for implementation. This will enable the Commission to test-run procedures and pilot innovations ahead of the 2023 general election. The speedy passage of the Bill will be in the best interest of our electoral process,” he added.

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