Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has replied President Mohammadu Buhari’s letter he wrote to the electoral body seeking explanation on some areas in the electoral bill transmitted to him by the National Assembly.
According to a reliable source in the Presidency, it was INEC’s considered opinion that the bill contains substantial provisions that would lay a solid foundation for important improvements in the electoral process.
INEC position was conveyed in its response to the president’s request for the view of the Commission on the Electoral Bill 2021.
In a letter dated November 29th, 2021 and signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the president had requested the INEC Chairman and the office of the Vice President, Attorney-General of the Federation, the Minister of Finance and the Inspector General of Police to provide considered views on the bill by Friday December 3, 2021.
Contrary to information in public domain that the president requested for comments on specific sections of the bill, it was gathered that INEC and the ministries and agencies were not requested to comment on any specific clause of the bill or provide cost implication of implementing any clause in the bill.
The source disclosed that INEC highlighted important provisions of the bill capable of deepening public trust, public confidences and overall credibility of the elections and the electoral process.
The commission also highlighted landmark proposals in the bill that would radically improve the quality of elections.
For instance, THISDAY was reliably informed that INEC mentioned that the electronic transmission of results, early submission of list of nominated candidates and the power of INEC to review election results declared under duress or in contravention of electoral laws and guidelines as some of the vital areas in the proposed amendments.
“It is therefore important to take these aspects into consideration in taking the decision to assent to the bill,” the source added.
INEC said in its response that, “An accelerated assent to the bill will facilitate the preparation of major elections such as the FCT municipal area council election, Ekiti and Osun governorship election and the 2023 general elections.” It therefore urged the president not to hesitate in signing the bill on electoral reforms.
The president has until December 19, to assent or decline.
The big issue is if the National Assembly goes on recess on December 15, they would resume in the third week of January next year.