House restates commitment to durable electoral process

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

The House of Representatives has re- affirmed its commitments towards entrenching a durable electoral process in the country.

This will include giving Nigerians in Diaspora the right to vote in future elections, increase women participation and authorising INEC to use any electronic device, means and platform to achieve credible and acceptable elections.

The Speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara stated this during a one day Public Hearing on 12 Bills for amendment of the Electoral Act 2010, organised by the House committee on electoral and political parties’ matters.

He said that the review process was to stimulate public discussion within and outside the legislature on the amendment that would bring about legislation for acceptable electoral process for peace and good governance.

“The issue of legal framework for electronic accreditation, Card Reader; Electronic Voting and announcement of Election Results; the place of INEC Guidelines/ Regulations vis a vis the Procedure for elections contained in the Electoral Act itself, Diaspora Voting, the role of Political Parties in the nomination process, etc. are some of the matters that should be settled in time before the 2019 General Election” Dogara said.

He explained to the gathering of civil society and political parties representatives and delegates from agencies such as INEC, that the proposed amendments are a direct result of occurrences during the 2015 election cycle and other circumstances in which the existing legislation proved inadequate to handle the situation, such as the last gubernatorial election in Kogi state, where the leading candidate died after voting had commenced, but before results were announced.

“While we continue to acknowledge the reasonable improvements recorded during the 2015 general elections in Nigeria where the ruling political party lost the elections and accepted the outcome of the process, we cannot pretend that the election was without flaws some of which bordered on lacunae in the legal framework. The case in Kogi State governorship election in which a candidate died after the ballot but before the declaration of results present a classical example of such limitations in the Electoral Act, among others, that require reform in the law.”

Legislative Agenda

Hajia Aishatu Jibrin Dukku, the Chair, House Committee on Electoral Matters explained to the gathering that the proposed amendment of the Electoral Act was part of the 8th National Assembly’s legislative agenda to reform the nation’s electoral process ahead of 2019 general elections.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu in a message at the Hearing said that continuous voters’ Registration was currently going on in all the 774 Local Government Areas as part of efforts towards ensuring credibility in subsequent Elections.

Also during the Hearing, Civil Society Organisations led by Policy and Legal Advocacy, PLAC called for timely passage of the Amendment Bill to enable INEC plan well for the 2019 Elections.

Nnenna.O