The Senate on Wednesday setup a conference committee on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The Committee, according to some Nigerians, is made up of mostly lawmakers who don’t want INEC to have the discretion of transmitting election result electronically.
The has been contention over the mode of election and the mode of election results transmission. Initially, the lawmakers had argued that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) don’t have the capacity to transmit election results electronically.
But the commission came out to debunked such a notion, stating that the have the capacity to conduct election electronically and transmit the election results electronically.
While the House of Representatives passed a different version of the electoral bill, the contention is on Clause 52 (3) which has to do with the mode of election conduct and transmission of the result.
On Wednesday, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who announced members of the harmonization committee at plenary said it would be led by Senate Leader, Sen. Abdullahi Yahaya (APC- Kebbi).
Other members of the Committee include Senate leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (Chairman); Kabiru Gaya (North-West); Basiru Ajibola (South-West); Danjuma Goje (North-East); Lilian Ekwunife (South-East); and Matthew Urhoghide (South-South).
Apart from Lilian Ekwunife representing the South East, all the listed lawmakers for the conference voted against INEC having the sole power to transmit election result electronically.
Even though the members of the Conference Committee are expected to liaise with their counterparts in the House of Representatives to harmonise the two versions of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill passed on July 15, 2021, the Senate Spokesman, Basiru Ajibola who is a member of the committee has earlier rejected the position of the Green chamber.
Also, Sen Kabiru Gaya, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC voted against the electoral umpire having such power even though his committee made the recommendation.
In July, the Senate passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, one of whose provisions is that INEC must seek clearance from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Assembly before conducting elections electronically and transmitting the results electronically.
Even though most Nigerians and leading civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country, including Yiaga Africa, Centre for Democracy Development (CDD), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) – the umbrella body of all political parties in Nigeria – have insisted on electronic voting and electronic transmission of elections results, curiously, the Nigerian Senate seems to be holding tenaciously to its opposition to their counterparts in the House of Representatives, INEC, CSOs and the general clamour by Nigerians who want INEC to retain the discretion to conduct the election electronically and transmit the results electronically.
With the composition of the conference committee, Nigerians are waiting to see what will be the faith of INEC on election conduct and transmission in the future polls.