- Key election stakeholders met in Abuja to review and evaluate some proposed amendments in the Electoral Amendment Bill
- Hosted by Yiaga Africa, participants focused on the constitutional and legal impact of some of the proposed amendments
- The aim of the meeting in the Nigerian capital was to build consensus on key issues amongst stakeholders
FCT, Abuja - Yiaga Africa has urged the National Assembly to set up a conference committee to harmonise different versions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed by the Senate and House of Representatives.
Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, made the call while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a ‘Stakeholders’ Reflection Roundtable on Electoral Reform’ held in Abuja on Friday, September 17.
Mbamalu called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill when submitted to him, saying that the country needs an electoral law that can be tried at least in the next election and during off-cycle elections before the general elections.
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“The National Assembly beyond immediately constituting a conference committee should conclude on the electoral amendment bill for onward transmission to the president and that the executive should be ready to assent.
“We do not want the incident of 2018 to repeat itself, where the president declined assent after a lot of investments had gone into electoral reform.
“Importantly, the conference committee should also make decisions in line with citizens’ demands in adopting amendments where both chambers adopted different version towards transparent and credible elections.
“For us at Yiaga, what is expedient for us is for the committee in their decision to ensure that citizens voices are reflected and key provisions that we believe should be adopted with the electoral amendment bill.
“One of that is the clause 52, the provision on INEC’s power to transmit results electronically. We believe the electoral commission is ready and capable to deploy electronic transmission of results. The house version of the bill gives INEC the discretion to decide the procedure for voting and transmission of results.
“We believe the version of the House of Reps, and the version of the bill should be adopted giving INEC the powers to decide the procedure for voting and transmission of results.”
Speaking earlier during the meeting, the chairman, Senate committee on media and public affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, noted that there is a connection between credible election and good governance.
Bashir also commended Yiaga for organizing the forum, and said election in a democratic society must be fair, transparent, and generally acceptable to the people.
“If we struggle with responsibilities on how to govern the country, whether in the executive or legislative arm of government, it gives not just a moral remorse, it gives us a moral burden to ensure we dedicate ourselves and get the wish and mandate of the people.”
He, however, frowned at the fact that some stakeholders are focusing mainly on one clause (52) in the Electoral Act which he said is generating a needless controversy.
On his part, Founder of The Albino Foundation, Jake Epelle hailed Yiaga for what he called “its boldness to challenge those in the electoral space.”
Epelle, however, lamented the fact that some aspects of the bill exclude people living with disabilities, women, and children.
There were also goodwill messages from ECOWAS, the European Union, the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, among others.
Yiaga welcomes new technological system by INEC
Meanwhile, Yiaga Africa has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its plan to deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for accreditation of voters and to enable near real-time viewing of results.
Legit.ng gathered that the all-in-one technology is a multifunctional integrated device that serves multiple purposes for different activities in the value chain of elections in Nigeria.
In a statement, Yiaga noted that the BVAS is designed as a bimodal biometric authentication device integrating both fingerprint and facial technology.
Yiaga working towards the successful conduct of Anambra election
In a related development, Yiaga Africa recently commenced its observation of the pre-election environment in Anambra state ahead of the Saturday, November 6 governorship election.
Through its Watching The Vote, citizens’ election observation project, Yiaga Africa is tracking and reporting pre-election activities for immediate response by stakeholders.
Through the pre-election observation, Yiaga Africa will track the efficacy of the role of major election stakeholders, early warning signs, and any form of incidents that can hinder the successful conduct of the elections.