- Says its most extensive ever
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has hailed the recent passage of the amendments to the Electoral Act 2010, by the Senate, describing it as the most extensive, and technologically friendly amendment in the history of Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, speaking when he met with Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday, said the amendment to the Electoral Act well ahead of the 2019 general election, would help the commission improve on the conduct of the 2019 elections.
“One of the problems we have had as a nation, is that amendments to the Electoral Act, come on the eve of elections. For instance, the last amendment was assented to two days to the last general election. So the document only came to light after the elections. But here we are, two clear years to the elections, we have the bill passed by the Senate,” he said.
Yakubu added that the submissions made by the electoral body, while working with the Senate Committee on INEC, were all taken care of.
He noted that the amendment has taken care of the conundrum thrown up by the Kogi governorship elections when the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Abubakar Audu, died after the polls had started, before results were announced.
“I am happy to say that virtually all the submissions were taken care of, including some of the developments in the bill that challenged our electoral jurisprudence; Kogi was one. We had a situation that was not guided by the constitution, not by the Electoral Act, and not even by our guidelines. This matter has been addressed in the amendment,” Yakubu said.
“All the encumbrances to the deployment of the technology in elections have now been addressed, and so INEC has the free hand to fully employ appropriate technology in the conduct of our elections. This is all the more remarkable because the deployment of technology helped the 2015 general election, and I want to assure you that we are going to deepen the use of technology in the conduct of elections,” he added.
The INEC boss further noted that the commission has concluded work on its five year strategic plan covering 2017-2021, which includes a programme of action, and would help Nigerians to be aware of INEC activities on a daily, monthly and quarterly basis.
“We have gone through all the processes including the last stakeholders validation of the document which happened on Tuesday this week. We have a strategic plan that will take us through the 2019 general election and beyond. Gone are the days when elections are conducted on ad hoc, quick fix basis. There has to be very clear processes,” Yakubu said.
The Senate President in his response, said the amendments made by the Senate, lay a good foundation that would encourage best practices in Nigeria’s electoral processes and elections.
“Particularly, one of the key areas of that law that we are really happy about is the collation of results. We have passed the law, to make it happen, and to implement it lies on you. As you rightly said, the application of technology is something that has to happen. It gives you power on how to apply technology appropriately. What we will demand from you is to ensure that all that is necessary to make those parts of technology support, as required, is achieved. I am sure you have men and women capable of doing that,” Saraki said.
He expressed hope that the House of Representatives would fast-track its work on the amendment, so the bill can be transmitted to the president.
“I had the opportunity earlier in the week to discuss with Mr. President who is also excited about it, someone who lost so many elections and seeing that some of the issues have now been addressed. I think we will all be excited to get to the implementation of this amendment in place.
“I want to assure you of the support of the Senate in doing the work of your strategic plan. It is also a good step for you to be able to have come up with a plan of over four years. It shows the kind of forward thinking of the INEC that we have. The responsibility is now on you to take us to that level of election that will, again, be a pride of not only Africa but the world. I think we can do that with the new law that we have in place,” Saraki added.