The Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum on Tuesday pleaded with the National Assembly to rescue Nigeria’s democracy by passing the necessary amendments to the Electoral Act.
Specifically, the forum urged the lawmakers to rise above partisan politics to pass the amendment to allow for the electronic transfer of election results.
This was contained in a statement titled, ‘Electronic Transmission: PDP Governors Forum Tasks National Assembly Conference Committee To Rescue Nigeria’s Democracy – Ask NASS to be guided by patriotism and national interest,’ signed by the Chairman of the forum and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwual, in Abuja.
While welcoming members of the National Assembly from their annual recess, the PDP-GF enjoined the legislators to immediately set the Conference Committee that will harmonise the different versions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bills passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.
The statement read in part, “The Forum insists 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.
“The PDP Governors’ Forum requests the Senate and House of Representatives Conference Committee when set up, to adopt the House version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on the issue of Electronic Transmission. It should be noted that Section 52(2) of the House version says: ‘Voting at an election and transmission of result 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 electronic transmission of results provided that the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigeria Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.”
It further read, “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 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, used in the recent bye-election in Delta State.
“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.”
Also, the statement read, “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.
“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 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 in 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.
“This 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.“
The governors urged Nigerians to rise and demand no less from her politicians. They noted that it is only credible elections that put the power in the hands of the people.
This, Tambuwual reiterated, “is not a partisan issue. It is not a regional or religious matter. The National Assembly should act in a patriotic manner as representatives of the people of Nigeria.”
Credit : Punch