A former National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2018 to guarantee transparency in the 2023 general election.
Without a credible and transparent process in 2023, the senior advocate warned that the country might force a teeming number of its frustrated youths to the Diaspora.
He expressed this concern in a statement he issued on Friday, tasking the National Assembly to revisit the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2018 and transmit to the president as early as possible.
Banire urged the federal government to learn from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which despite allegations of vote manipulation had made steady progress with each election, since it introduced electronic voting.
He noted that a combination of both manual and electronic modes be adopted in elections, adding that internet availability is still relatively low, especially the bandwidth.
He said: “There is hardly any significant coverage in the rural areas and the country cannot afford to exclude this sizable number of Nigerians from exercising their franchise.
“This factor played out in the 2019 general election. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) promised to deploy electronic voting across the country and suddenly realised that it was just being unduly ambitious in view of the limitations confronting availability of the Internet in most parts of the country.”
However, the senior advocate argued that if it was possible to effectively use satellites to power the process, the advocacy for manual voting in this regard might be dispensed with.
Banire said: “I read about 50 companies jostling for the contract for the introduction of electronic voting system to the electoral process via the procurement process of INEC and I was elated.
“Among the 50 bidders, I believe that a company with capacity for electronic voting will emerge. If this is eventually so, I fully support the introduction of electronic voting systems in the entire country.
“This will, among others, enthrone some measure of transparency in the country’s electoral system; eliminate thuggery that leads to voter apathy; reduce, if not totally eliminate money politics, as money could not be received.
“Electronic voting will allow a person’s conscience to thrive and prevail. Electronic voting will also eliminate multiple voting and tampering with electoral materials.”
He further explained that electronic voting will enable more informed people to participate in elections as opposed to the present system where the majority of the voters determining the leadership of the country are largely uninformed, endangering all of us.
He added that most elite “avoid going out to vote due to fear of political thugs and other miscreants whose bread is often buttered by unscrupulous politicians to facilitate electoral manipulation and are always ready and available to unleash mayhem to secure victory for their sponsors.”