Senate committee on appropriation urges INEC to replace BVAS machines used in Anambra poll

• As NASS Set to transmit Electoral Bill this week for Buhari's assent

Senate Committee on Appropriation has advised INEC to work towards replacing the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines used in the just concluded Anambra State Governorship following their poor performance.

The Deputy Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Stella Oduah, made the call when the senate chairman on INEC and Electoral Matters Senator Kabiru Gaya presented his budget report before the committee in Abuja.

It is a yearly ritual for various sub-committees in the Senate to present their budget reports to the Appropriation Committee following the conclusion of budget defence by MDAs.

Senator Stella Oduah said: “The BVAS Machines used at the just concluded Anambra state Governorship were not functioning optimally and called for their replacement before the 2023 elections.”

Senator Oduah lamented over the poor performance of BVAS in a small given election like the Anambra State Governorship election and wondered what would happen in the forthcoming general elections in 2023.

She disclosed how she was in a queue for over five hours to be accredited, a situation she described as very appalling.

The chairman Senate Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters, Senator Kabiru Gaya, said plans are underway to replace them.

Senator Gaya said the BVAS Machines were test-ran before the deployment on the field but was shocked at their poor performance.

“We keenly watched the Anambra governorship election and we realised that Bivas have serious problems.

“We are surprised that the machines malfunctioned at the Anambra governorship election because they worked perfectly when INEC demonstrated them for us at the committee.

“We have agreed to try the machines in other elections coming up in 2022 so as to determine their functionality before the 2023 general elections.

“We still have the Ekiti and Osun elections coming up. However, INEC is already working on the solution so that we would not have problems in 2023.

“I will not agree that it is a case of sabotage because it is an electronic device that could fail but we already have provisions for spare. If a machine fails, a new one would be brought in.”

Senator Kabiru Gaya appealed to the committee to approve the timely release of funds for INEC to execute its necessary functions before the elections.

He noted that late releases of funds has stalled its efforts to carry out basic functions.

“That is why we have a proposal for partial release of N100bn for the 2023 general elections in the 2022 budget. We are hoping that we could get further funding before the election.

The N100bn will allow INEC to order materials that it would need ahead of the elections including machines that could be manufactured here in the country”.Gaya said.

Speaking on the Electoral Bill recently passed by the National Assembly, Senator Kabiru Gaya said: “It amendments were made based on the views and requests of Nigerians. I believe that it will help to guarantee free, fair and credible elections in the country.”

Also on direct primary, he explained that “I believe that direct primary is taking democracy to the grassroots. That is what President Buhari always talk about. It will allow people who are card-carrying members of the party can decide who should be their candidate. We are happy with it and we believe that President Buhari will sign the bill very soon”

The National Assembly will transmit the bill to the President this week for assent and we expect that he will sign it into law by the grace of God.”

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