E-voting and Senate’s bid to restore public confidence in electoral process

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Did the All Progressives Congress (APC)-dominated National Assembly wait for the final conquest of the electoral space before revisiting the Electoral Act 2010 amendment that was abandoned at the tail end of 8th session? That was the predominant question raised by some stakeholders as The Guardian gathered that the upper chamber of the federal legislative arm has begun fresh attention to electoral reforms.

Among other far-reaching improvements in the electoral process is the proposal to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election are to be transmitted. Chairman of reformed All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Buba Galadima, has dismissed the proposed attention to the Electoral Act 2010 after the massive vote heist in Bayelsa and Kogi States, saying it shows that the country is finished. Galadima expressed disappointment that President Muhammadu Buhari, whom a lot of people expected to make a difference in government, has decided to walk the path of infamy instead of introducing meaningful change in the way things are done in the country.

“With a compromised judiciary and compliant legislature, how far could the token mention of reforms go?” Galadima queried. “They knew the proper things to do, but waited until now, after dispossessing Nigerians to revisit the all-important Electoral Act amendment.“Much damage has been done to Nigeria’s electoral process. The issue of the proposed amendment is just a face-saving antic to divert attention from the collusion of security agents and INEC in disenfranchising voters in Bayelsa and Kogi.”

However, while congratulating the National Assembly for acknowledging the importance of electronic voting, National Chairman of United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, expressed relief in the hope that election in Nigeria would no longer be capital intensive. Okorie pointed out that some of the benefits of electronic voting include holding of election without declaring public holidays or on Saturdays, curtailing money politics and ensuring fidelity of the ballot.

He said: “It is a welcome development and sounds as victory to lovers of democracy. There should be a legal framework, because it was a central feature in Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s petition, which was shut down. Action on the Electoral Act 2010 should be expeditious so that it could be remitted to the president before their Christmas break. That would show us that they are serious.

“It would show greater voter participation; it would shore up public confidence. Electronic voting would ensure that a popular candidate that doesn’t have money could win election. In the First Republic, for instance, a retired headmaster defeated Dr. Alex Ekwueme, because it was free and fair.”

The UPP chairman said it has become obvious that the present system has overwhelmed INEC, recalling that although President Buhari promised to introduce more technology after noting that it helped him win the 2015 election, the 8th NASS was not serious.“When the Amendment Bill came in 2018 it was belated. The amendment requires sensitization and I would urge the lawmakers to carry out the necessary processes so that it could be test-run during the forthcoming Edo, Ondo and Anambra States’ gubernatorial elections.”

Source: Guardian NG

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