Electronic Transmission: PDP Governors’ Forum tasks NASS to set up committee, rescue democracy
The PDP Governors’ Forum on Tuesday called on the National Assembly to immediately set up its conference committee that will harmonise the different versions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bills passed by both chambers.
The forum said the committee should have a clear mandate to harken to the wishes of Nigerians and be guided by the national interest, particularly on the issue of electronic transmission of results.
In a press statement, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, chairman of the forum and Governor of Sokoto State insisted that a further delay in passing and assenting to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill would do grievous and irreparable damage to preparations for the conduct of the 2023 elections in Nigeria.
Tambuwal said they were requesting 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.
He observed 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.”
The governor added that 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.”
According to him, “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 chairman said the forum recognises that INEC had 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.
Tambuwal noted that it was 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 the total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the Commission.”
He said 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.
The chairman added that the intervention of the PDP Governors’ was predicated on the need to ensure a free, fair, and credible election, that strengthens Nigeria’s democracy, constitutionalism, and rule of law, stressing that only a credible election would guarantee accountability and good governance, which Nigeria so desperately needs today.
He, therefore, charged Nigerians to rise and demand no less from her politicians, adding that only credible elections put the power in the hands of the people.