INEC may flag off e-voting with Anambra governorship Election 2021

•As Committee bars INEC National Commissioners from closed doors budget defence

The Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Wednesday hinted the much totuted Electronic voting in the country may begin from the Anambra State gubernatorial election slated next year.

Prof. Yakubu dropped the hint while speaking with newsmen shortly after 2021 budget defence session before the House Committee on Electoral Matters.

He stated that about 40 companies had demonstrated on e-voting to the commission but a decision was yet to be reached.

According to him, “they have demonstrated. The next stage is for the commission to decide. So, its too early to tell you the cost or when the process will be concluded.

“But we’re determined, we are going to deploy electronic voting machines, or electronic ballot machines in elections, possibly we commencce with the Anambra Governorship elections next year. ”

The INEC boss, however, declined to speak on what the country is to expect from him as the INEC boss during his second tenure saying “I have not been confirmed by the Senate yet, wait till I’m confirmed, then I will tell you what to expect from the Commission.”

There was however some bickering on as the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, made to present its 2021 budget proposal to the House Committee on Electoral Matters.

Immediately after the Chairperson, Hon. Aisha Dukku delivered her opening address, the Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, made to commence the outlay of the 2021 proposal, but a lawmaker, Rep. Solomon Bob, (Rivers) under a point of order noted that it would be pointless and counter-productive to do such.

According to him, the 2020 budget performance is the real kernel of the matter. He recalled that throughout 2020, there was no oversight of the INEC due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, he said it was imperative to know how the appropriation given was utilized before other funds would be given.

But the Chairperson of the Committee, Rep. Aisha Dukku ruled him out of order, saying as the Chairperson of the committee, she has the prerogative to structure the order of events.

But, after the presentation of the 2021 proposal, Rep. Uzoma Abonta (Abia PDP) and Rep. Yusuf Tajudeen ( Kogi PDP) insisted on asking questions on the 2020 budget performance of the organisation. The said if the INEC was not comfortable with discussung issues in the open, the should go into a closed door session.

Seeing that members were becoming visibly angry, the Chairperson capitulated and all the commissioners, directors, the Permanent Secretary, journalists and aides to lawmakers in the committee room were asked to leave, with only the INEC chairman and the lawmakers remaining.

One of the National Commissioners who were asked to stay outside, Mr Festus Okoye, however, told journalists that there was nothing strange about the committee opting to meet with only Yakubu behind closed doors.

According to him, “they have their own rules, they set their own rules so we have to comply. They can invite only the chairman for a meeting, so there is nothing strange in what is happening now.”

The INEC boss had earlier informed the Committee that the Commission had to revert to its special fund, created under section three of the Electoral Act, in order to meet its mandates, due to a drastic reduction of its budget after the review.

According to him, its initial budget of N40 billion was reduced to N36 billion, when the Commission was already in the middle of implementation, and so had to draw N5.2 billion from the INEC Fund in order to deliver on its mandate.

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