Senate moves to amend electoral law
The Senate yesterday commenced consideration of three bills seeking to amend the Electoral Act 2010 ahead of the 2015 elections with lawmakers sharply disagreeing over proposals to grant the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) powers to conduct electronic voting in the future.
Senators also argued along party lines on another bill sponsored by Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina) which is proposing that INEC be made to conduct all elections on the same day.
Leading debate on the proposed legislation, Senator Ibrahim had argued that his bill which seeks to amend Section 25(1) of the extant law is in tune with global best practices and cost effective as seen in countries like Ghana, Venezuela and others.
“INEC spends colossal amount of money on elections which can be reduced by a 3rd. In 2011, INEC spent N50 billion to pay ad hoc staff in one day. This amendment will promote greater participation of political parties in all elections even if they don’t have much resource like those in government,” Ibrahim argued.
He contended that the commission can afford to conduct all the five elections on the same day because it will use the same personal to man voting stations which will reduce rigging, election litigations and other frauds associated with elections in Nigeria.
However, PDP senators including Senate President David Mark opposed it, arguing that INEC does not have the capacity to embark on such exercise and urged his colleagues to consider the capacity of INEC before introducing the one-day election.
On his part, Deputy Senate Leader Abdul Ahmed Ningi (PDP, Bauchi) insisted that the National Assembly needed to stipulate the procedure for elections saying, “INEC shall not have power to determine sequence of election.”
The bill sponsored by deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu is also seeking to amend Section 52 of the Electoral Act which prohibits the use of electronic voting by INEC.
“While we appreciate the challenges of electronic voting system in our infrastructure deficit environment, the bill seeks to grant the commission the latitude to use electronic voting system when it is ready with the appropriate capacity and technology to do so,” Senator Ekweremadu said.
The proposed legislation is also seeking to grant the president powers to appoint secretary of the commission instead of being appointed by the chairman.
Staff of Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) removing posters from walls along Ahmadu Bello Way in Abuja yesterday.