Connect with us

Politics

Electoral Act Amendment: Still Riding The Storm

Published

on

If members of the National Assembly had hoped to give themselves a quiet and rejuvenating break from their legislative labours through the year when they decided to keep the consideration and passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as the last item on their agenda before proceeding on their annual recess, they must have realized by now that they didn’t do themselves any favours by the way they handled the matter, especially section 52 (3).
As things have turned out, they murdered their own sleep when they ended up with varying and divergent positions on the subject matter of the electronic transmission of election results from the polling units that fall short of the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
From the proposition, that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could employ electronic transmission of results where practicable, as indicated in section 52 (3) of the amendment bill, the senate, by a 52 votes to 28 (with 28 absentions) concluded that INEC should consider electronic transmission only if the national network coverage is adjudged by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to be adequate and secure, and then approved by the National assembly.
According to the Senate, “The commission may consider electronic transfer provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigerian Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly”.
The House of Representatives on its part, however, voted to retain the controversial clause which gives INEC the discretion to determine when, where and by what means voting and transmission of results may be conducted.
“Voting at an election and transmission of result under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission, the House stipulated.
While a wide range of Nigerians and most critical stakeholder groups and individuals have since outrightly faulted, floored and condemned the senate for unconstitutionally subjecting INEC to the NCC in the discharge of its (INEC) assignment, they have not spared the green chamber for falling short of making it mandatory for INEC to transmit results by electronic means, especially when the commission itself has not complained of any inadequacy, inability or impediment to undertake the venture.
The lawmakers, on the other hand, have been laboring to explain and defend their roundly flawed position.
Speaking to newsmen while on a visit to his Yobe North Senatorial District, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the upper legislative chamber did what it did in defence of Nigerian voters whose votes may not be counted with the immediate deployment of technological means of transmitting results.
“I’m happy that we have been able to pass the amendment even though some people are complaining of what we have passed in the senate and probably what the House of Representatives also passed.
“When the majority of senators voted against immediate application or deployment of electronic transmission of results from the polling units, to the ward, to the local government, states and federal, they didn’t say they do not believe in electronic transmission.
“All of us in the senate, 109 of us, believe that at one point, our electoral process must deploy electronic transmission so that it eases and enhances the electoral process and give it more credibility and integrity”, Dr Lawan said.
Continuing, he said, “But you see, when you have not reached that stage where you could deploy the electronic transmission from every part of the country, then you have to be very careful. And no matter what anybody may say, you can not have about 50 per cent of Nigerian voters not participating or not getting their votes counted in elections and say it doesn’t matter, that we have to start the electronic transmission.
“We know the evils of not transmitting results electronically but compare the evils of electronically transmitting just half of the electoral votes from Nigerians and say you have elected a president with 50 per cent only”.
The Senate President further explained that the lawmakers expect that whenever the NCC is satisfied that INEC could deploy the technology for transmission, both institutions would approach the National Assembly for the final nod, adding that the federal lawmaking body would never turn down the request when all the conditions have been met.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission has insisted without equivocation that it has what it takes to transmit election results from everywhere in the country, including very difficult to reach locations.
Speaking in reaction to the development on National Television, Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Chairman and Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, said “We have uploaded results from very remote areas, even from areas where you have to use human carriers to access. So, we’ve made our position very clear, that we have the capacity and we have the will to deepen the use of technology in the electoral process”.
Of course, with the success achieved in the Ondo and Edo State’ gubernational elections where INEC opened a portal into which results were posted and made accessible to the public, Nigerians have refused to believe whatever explanation from the naysaying lawmakers and their apologists but are instead insistent that the national electoral body be given all the assistant, support and encouragement to consolidate on the gains already achieved.
Expressing his views on the subject matter, Adekude Adekoya, a public affairs analyst, berated the National Assembly for complicating an otherwise knotty situation.
“Now, this is really bothersome. Instead of simplifying a knotty situation, the senate seems to be worsening it. Why bring NCC into this matter? Why must the National Assembly approve it? There is a fixation about how the results of future elections will be delivered by the ruling faction of the power elite. Why this obsession?”, he queried, adding that “I suspect dark motives behind this obsession with not having electronic transmission of results is because the collation centres, which are actually business centres, will go out of business”.
According to Adekoya, “Unscrupulous politicians have always used the business, sorry, collation centres, to subvert the will of the people, time and again, and they know that the game may be up if electronic transmission is part of the law. It may explain why the clause is worded with trips and traps that will make INEC and NCC collide, while the National Assembly has already appointed itself the umpire.” Suspecting desperation by vested interests that care less about the welfare and wellbeing of the Nigerian people, Adekoya urged the lawmakers to always ensure to deliver the best that Nigerians deserved.
“Must we be stuck with politics of thuggery and elections of ballot box snatching? Technology developed from science to make life and living easier. Why don’t we want it in our electoral systemy? There seems a grand determination by people questing for power to attain it at all costs. A lame electoral law will be a huge enabler”, he said.
Evidently, this is why some Nigerians are clamouring for a review of the bill as passed by the National Assembly through the harmonization process while others are urging the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to withhold his assent unless what is delivered to him provides for the unmitigated power of INEC to organize, supervise and conduct elections without recourse to any other institution or authority as enshrined in the constitution.
However, there appears to be very little or no hope at all that the National assembly will deviate from the path it has taken as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has been reported to be urging the NCC and INEC to work together to deliver credible elections to Nigerians.
Brieging journalists in Abuja, last Tuesday, Rt. Hon. Gbajabiamila said, “INEC is empowered by our laws and the constitution to conduct elections and NCC has the mandate in terms of technology and capacity and all of that. So, they need to work together for us to have credible elections”.
With Nigerians already calling for the prosecution of the NCC officials whose testimony under oath has been found to be false and thereby misled the House of Representatives, the ghost of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, whose body was laid at the hallow chambers of the National Assembly, will continue to haunt the lawmakers until they come back and meet Nigerians on their terms.

By: Opaka Dokubo

Continue Reading

Politics

PDP Reschedules NEC Meeting For Sept 26

Published

on

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has slated September 26 for its second National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the year.
The date was announced by the party through its 2024 adjusted timetable and schedule of activities for congresses, which were released to party members and stakeholders on Monday.
Ahead of the September NEC meeting, the party has slated July 27 for the conduct of ward/delegate congresses to elect ward executives as well as three ad hoc delegates in 23 out of the 36 states of the country, including Abuja.
The timetable also disclosed that, among other things, the NEC is expected to ratify the list of executives that will emerge from the congresses.
According to the timetable, local government congresses to elect council executives and national delegates in 21 affected states are expected to follow on August 10th.
Recall that in April, the PDP held its first NEC meeting after acrimonious elections in 2023, where many of its high-profile members were involved in anti-party activities.
The party remains polarised, with some members supporting former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the party, and others queuing behind the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, Nyesom Wike.
The outcome of the election and issues surrounding the role played by its leaders led to the suspension of the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, by his Igyorov Ward executives from the Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State.
However, the effort to remove the Acting National Chairman, Ambassador Illiya Damagum, to allow the North Central region where Ayu hails from to produce its successor was deferred to the next NEC meeting earlier slated for August, which has now been shifted to September.

Continue Reading

Politics

Edo, Ondo 2024: INEC Warns Personnel Against Corrupt Practices

Published

on

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the success of any election largely depends on the professionalism and competence of those responsible for conducting it.
INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said this while warning its personnel against unethical and corrupt practices in the upcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
He spoke on Monday in Abuja at a lecture in honour of late Abubakar Momoh, former director-general of The Electoral Institute (TEI), from August 2013 to May 2017.
Prof. Yakubu, represented by the National Commissioner, and Chairman, Board of Electoral Institute, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, warned that any unethical practice before, during and after those elections would incur severe punishments under the law.
The theme of the lecture was: “Achieving Professionalism Among Election Personnel Through Effective Training in Preparation for the Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections.’’
He advised electoral officers to be guided by the principles of integrity, impartiality, transparency, professionalism, gender and disability sensitivity.
He said it was important for electoral personnel to be knowledgeable, skilled and well-equipped with relevant competencies to handle the complexities and challenges of the electoral process.
“Moreover, the crucial role election personnel play in upholding the integrity of our democratic processes cannot be overstressed.
“The manner in which they discharge their duties and responsibilities affects the degree of confidence voters will have in the electoral process, which will impact their participation and turnout,’’ he said.
Prof. Yakubu said that to ensure credibility and trustworthiness in elections and build trust among the electorate, INEC had always prioritised the professional development of its election personnel.
He said the commission identified effective and efficient electoral training as the key to unlocking professionalism among election personnel.
“The commission’s involvement in effective training programmes has empowered its staff to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in order to strengthen our processes and procedures to serve the interests of all Nigerians,’’ he said.
The Director General of TEI, Dr Sa’ad Idris, in his remarks, said that INEC, in pursuit of its mission and vision, had prioritised professionalism toward achieving free, credible, transparent and inclusive elections.
“As we prepare for the 2024 Edo and Ondo off-cycle governorship elections, the commission is assured that the outcome of effective training of election personnel will manifest in a high level of professionalism”, he said.

 

Continue Reading

Politics

Reps Propose Rotational Presidency, Six-Year Single Term

Published

on

A bill seeking a single term of six years for the President and state governors was brought up on Monday by 35 members of the House of Representatives.
The bill also canvasses the rotation of the presidency among the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The 35 legislators, under the auspices of Reform-minded Legislators, said the proposition would lead to a reduction in the cost of governance.
Addressing a press conference at the National Assembly Complex on Monday, the spokesman for the group, Ikenga Ugochinyere, added that the move would unite the country and ensure a seamless transition and unprecedented development for the country.
Hon Ugochinyere emphasised the need to interrogate the challenges facing the Nigerian state, saying, “We should not be afraid to meet and discuss our problems, challenges, fears, aspirations, and prospects as a people. We should not discuss in fear and we should never fear to discuss.”
Speaking on the bill, Hon Ugochinyere, who represents Ideato North/Idaeto South Federal Constituency of Imo State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said, “On governance, we are proposing a constitutional alteration to provide for the rotation of executive powers among the six geopolitical zones to ensure equal representation and reduce the desperation and tempo of agitation for the creation of states. We are proposing to amend Section 3 of the constitution to provide for the recognition of the division of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones.
“And also, to amend the constitution to provide for a single tenure of six years for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the state governors. This will bring about a reduction in government spending and wastage; promote efficiency in governance, and national stability by providing a single term of six years for the President and the governors.”
The lawmakers drawn from different political parties are also seeking amendments to the constitution “to create the office of two Vice Presidents from the southern and northern parts of Nigeria.”
Hon Ugochinyere explained that the First Vice President would be a succession vice president, while the Second Vice President would be a minister in charge of the economy, and both shall be ministers.
Hon Ugochinyere said the 35 lawmakers were also pushing for a “constitutional amendment to provide that the President and the First Vice President shall come from the same part of the country (North or South) and the First Vice President shall become President whenever the President becomes incapacitated, that is, VP (succession), VP (Administration and Economy).”
The bill also seeks financial autonomy and accountability of local government councils by prescribing an independent Consolidated Local Government Council Account solely superintendent by Local Councils. It prescribes long-term imprisonment for any misuse of local government funds.
On electoral reforms, the group proposed amendments to the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to ensure “that all elections (presidential, governorship, National Assembly, state Houses of Assembly, and local Governments) are held on the same day.”
Hon Ugochinyere said, “We are pushing for amendments to relevant sections of the Electoral Act to provide that no declaration of a winner of an election shall be done by the relevant Independent National Electoral Commission officials until such officer has compared the results with the list of accredited voters and ensured that the results to be declared are in tandem with the list of accredited voters and the B-VAS machine or any other electronic device.
“Amend the Electoral Act to provide that any INEC officer who declares a false result will be liable for civil and criminal action personally brought against him by parties in the elections.
“An amendment to the Electoral Act to provide that all election-related litigations must be resolved and determined by the Elections Petitions Tribunal, Appeal Courts, etc before the winners are sworn into the respective elective offices.

Continue Reading

Trending