.Empowers INEC to determine mode of sending results
.It’s victory for democracy, says Ekweremadu
.Wike hails Red Chamber
.As legislature approves direct primaries for parties
The Senate on Tuesday empowered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the procedure for the transmission of results during the general elections.
This was just as the Upper Chamber approved direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.
The amendments were made on Tuesday by the Senate to some clauses of the Electoral Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) bill 2021, passed on July 15, 2021.
The chamber explained that the decision to subject the amended clauses of the bill to re-committal was reached after critical examination by the Senate Committee on INEC.
The chamber added that some fundamental issues which required fresh legislative action were observed by the Senator Kabiru Gaya-led Committee in the bill.
Accordingly, the chamber in a motion for re-committal, re-amended certain aspects of the bill contained in Clauses 43, 52, 63 and 87, respectively.
The upper chamber in Clause 52 of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill passed almost three months ago, had approved that “the Commission (INEC) may consider the electronic transmission of results, provided the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the National Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.”
The Senate, however, amended the clause when the bill was subjected to re-committal to provide that, “subject to section 63 of this bill, voting at an election and transmission of results under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission.”
The chamber also amended Clause 87 approving direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.
Members of the Conference Committee on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021, are expected to meet with their counterparts in the House of Representatives to harmonise the two versions passed by both chambers.
In his reaction, Former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has commended the Senate for reversing itself on electronic transmission of results, saying it was a huge victory for the nation’s democracy.
Ekweremadu said the Senate’s action justified his assurances to Nigerians in July that all hope was not lost for electronic transmission of 2023 election results despite the initial setback.
In a statement by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu said: “I want to specially commend the Senate for setting aside narrow partisan interests to correct the mistake of July 15, 2021 by reversing itself on the issue of electronic transmission of election results.
“This clause, though not originally part of the Bill, was introduced by the Joint National Assembly Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, which I am part of, to save the nation the troubles of ballot box snatching, electoral violence, and manipulations that happen between the polling booth and collation centres.
“Although I was representing Nigeria at an international parliamentary session in Montenegro and therefore unavoidably absent during the passage of the Bill in July, I had assured Nigerians that we would work with the progressives across party lines to dialogue with our colleagues and other critical stakeholders to ensure that electronic transmission of results was restored in the Bill.
“It is, therefore, heart-warming that my confidence in the capacity of my colleagues to dialogue and rise above narrow partisan interest on this matter was not misplaced.
“I must also commend the Civil Society Organisations and Nigerians for standing up for what is right for the nation and our democracy”.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has commended the National Assembly on its decision to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, determine the use of electronic voting and transfer of results.
The governor said the resolution of the National Assembly joint committee to allow the electoral umpire transmit election results electronically is a good development for Nigeria and democracy.
Governor Wike stated this in Port Harcourt on Tuesday in reaction to the decision of the Senate to rescind its earlier stance against transmission of result electronically.
“I think it is a good news to hear that the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed for INEC to transmit result electronically. That is a good news to hear. Like I have always said, what is important now is what do people want. The moment you do what the people want, you’ll see happiness everywhere.”
The Rivers state governor, who has been a proponent of transparent electoral system, observed that many nations have moved beyond manual result declaration and Nigeria cannot afford in the 21st century to be left behind.
“I think it is a good development for Nigeria and democracy. And I will urge them , the two Chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate to abide by that recommendation by the joint committee of the two Chambers, because it is for their own interest.
” And I commend the Senate President and the Speaker, House of Representatives, all the principal officers and members who felt that they must listen to what is good for Nigeria and what is good for Nigerians.”
Speaking further on the amendment of the Electoral Act, Governor Wike stated that the issue of direct or indirect primaries should be the exclusive decision of the political parties in the country.
He maintained that it will be unfair for the National Assembly to prescribe for political parties how to conduct their primaries .
“A party could adopt a method , procedure in electing who represent them at various level, that is not the for the National Assembly to dictate that you must do it by direct or indirect method. That is not democracy. That should be an internal affair of the party.”
Governor Wike insisted that National Assembly prescribing how political parties conduct their primaries is tantamount to interference in the internal politics of the parties.
“The National Assembly should realise that doing that is interfering in the internal politics of the parties and that will not augur well.”
The governor also faulted the bill sponsored by the Deputy Senate President seeking for the establishment of two Nigerian Law School campuses in each of the six geopolitical zone.
He stressed that the proposal is not in tandem with current reality, as the existing Nigerian Law School campuses are grossly underfunded.
“The National Assembly have not been able to give them the money to fund the Law School, and you are saying they should establish two Law School in each zone.