Ahead of the composition of the Conference Committee of both chambers of the National Assembly on the passage of the Electoral Amendment Act, governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have urged the lawmakers to be guided by patriotism and toe the part of millions of Nigerians in approving electronic transmission of election results.
NASS which just resumed session after its yearly recess is expected to announce names of members of the conference committee that will harmonise the different versions of the Electoral act amendment bills passed by both chambers.
The PDP Governors Forum cautioned that a further delay in passing and assenting to the electoral act amendment bill will do grievous and irreparable damage to preparations for the conduct of the 2023 elections in Nigeria.
In a statement by Chairman PDP Governors Forum, Sokoto state governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the body asked the lawmakers to rescue Nigeria’s democracy.
“The PDP Governors’ Forum requests the Senate and House of Representatives (House) Conference Committee when set up, “to adopt the House version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on the issue of Electronic Transmission of result
It should be noted that Section 52(2) of the House version says: “Voting at an election and transmission of results under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission”, and Section 52 (2) of the Senate version provides: “The Commission may consider the electronic transmission of results provided that the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.”
The forum clearly stated that the Senate version which subjects the decision of INEC to deploy electronic transmission to the decision of the Nigerian Communications Commission and National Assembly is “manifestly a usurpation of the powers of INEC and offends relevant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantees INEC’s autonomy and independence”.
The statement further stated, “The forum recognises that INEC has demonstrated the capacity to transmit votes electronically, both in recent off season elections and with the introduction and deployment of the Biomodel Voters Accreditation System (BVAs), used in the recent bye-election in Delta state.
Continuing, the statement read “Furthermore, it is necessary to remind the Senate and House Conferees that both Chambers had already approved in S.63(5) of the Bill as follows: “The Presiding officer shall transmit the results including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the Commission.”
“It is obvious that S.52 (2) of the Senate version is manifestly inconsistent with S.63 (5) contained in the same Bill. No doubt, S.63 (5) which both chambers approved is consistent with S.52 (2) of the House version and should be upheld by the Conference Committee.
“The Conference has no choice but to adopt the House version as to do otherwise would lead to unnecessary complications and conflicts even within the Bill.
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“Secondly, the PDP Governors requests the National Assembly Conference Committee to jettison the House of Representatives decision that has the effect of forcing all political parties to adopt ONLY ONE METHOD of conducting primaries. The House amended S.87 (1) of the Act, by deleting indirect pl primaries and mandating only direct primaries.
“The Forum is of the view that political parties should be allowed discretion to adopt either direct or indirect primaries in their Constitutions and practice. The Senate version that retains the original provision in the Electoral Act should be adopted in the interest of the growth of our political parties and freedom of choice, the hallmark of a functional democracy”.
Tambuwal explained that the intervention of the PDP Governors is predicated “on the need to ensure a free, fair and credible election, that strengthens Nigeria’s democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law. Only a credible election will guarantee accountability and good governance which Nigeria so desperately needs today”.
“It is only credible elections that put the power in the hands of the people. This is not a partisan issue. It is not a regional or religious matter”, adding that “the National Assembly should act in a patriotic manner as representatives of the people of Nigeria the statement read.