2023: INEC seeks unrestricted powers to deploy technology for polls

...Calls for prompt conclusion of work on Electoral Act

Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the National Assembly to endow it with power to determine what technology to deploy for elections at the appropriate time.

INEC asked the parliament to make broad provisions of the law that will empower the Commission to continue to innovate without restricting it to a specific technology such as the Smart Card Reader which could in due course become obsolete, inapplicable or irrelevant.

Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman made these demands at the meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives Conference Committee on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 in Abuja on Thursday.

Yakubu appreciated the decision of the National Assembly to empower INEC to determine and deploy appropriate technology in future elections, saying it is one of the progressive decisions by the Nigerian apex legislature.

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He said the commission is looking forward to the conclusion of the process of harmonising the Electoral Act Amendment Bill without which, INEC cannot make the regulations and guidelines to give effect to the provisions of the law, stressing that the speedy passage of the Bill will be in the best interest of the electoral process.

“Without the Regulations and Guidelines, we cannot finalise on the manuals for the training of officials that will conduct elections. There are extensive provisions in the current Bill that require clear guidance by the Commission.

“With only 484 days until the 2023 General Election, time is of the essence. In addition to the Anambra State Governorship election holding on 6th November 2021, the Commission has already scheduled three major elections to be conducted next year. First is the Area Council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) holding on 12th February 2022, followed by the Ekiti Governorship election on 18th June 2022 and the Osun Governorship election a month later on 16th July 2022. The Commission also has five pending bye-elections made up of three Federal Constituencies and two State Constituencies to contend with.

“I want to assure you that in a proactive manner, the Commission has been studying aspects of the amendment Bill and identifying areas that require the formulation of regulations and guidelines as well as the review of prescribed forms for implementation. This will enable the Commission to test-run procedures and pilot innovations ahead of the 2023 General Election”, he noted.

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