Se­nate moves to amend elec­toral law

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Tu­raki A. Has­san

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.

PIC: GOD­SWILL AYE­MOBA

Staff of Abuja En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Board (AEPB) re­mov­ing posters from walls along Ah­madu Bello Way in Abuja yes­ter­day.

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