We have devoted several weeks to this column writing about the need for the electoral act amendment bill to include electronic voting and electronic transmission of election results.
It was also the views of many Nigerians but when the Senate voted on the bill on July 15, 2021, the power to transmit election results electronically was technically removed from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Not only that, the Senate went ahead to undermine the independence of INEC by including a clause that INEC must seek clearance from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Assembly.
This raised a lot of dust with many people seeing the move as a ploy to destroy the sanctity of the electoral process.
The House of Representatives during their voting tore a different line, allowing INEC to decide the mode of election results transmission.
While there was a need for the two Houses to harmonise their positions, as a result of pressure and public outcry, the Senate overturned the version of the electoral bill it passed recently.
The Red Chamber opted to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to decide the mode of election conduct and transmission of election results in the country.
The Senators recommitted the bill for more legislative work and after much debate, they amended clause 52 (3) which now allows INEC to determine the mode of election conduct and transmission of election results.
Presenting a motion for re-committal of the bill and to recline some sections of the bill that was passed earlier in June this year, Senate leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122) was to amend some sections.
The Senate leader said, “The Senate recalls that the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives; observes that after critical examination of the Bill by the Senate Committee on INEC, some fundamental issues which requires fresh legislative action on the following Clauses: 43, 52, 63 and 87 were observed;
“Desirous of the need to address the observations by the Committee and make necessary amendments; and relying on order 1(b) and 53(6) of Senate Standing Order, accordingly resolves to: Rescind its decision on the affected Clauses of the Bill as passed and re-commit the same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and passage”.
There had been disagreement over the mode of transmission of the election results by the lawmakers, Civil Society Organisations and the umbrella body of political parties in Nigeria, Inter-party Party Advisory Council (IPAC).
The amendments were made to some clauses of the Electoral Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) bill 2021.
The re-committal of the bill was reached after critical examination by the Senate Committee on INEC led by Senator Kabiru Gaya.
The re-amended Clauses 43, 52, 63 and 87 are the most critical in the bill and many Nigerians have seen it as a victory for Democracy.
Members of the Conference Committee on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 both in the Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to harmonise the two versions passed by both chambers soon with Nigerians waiting for its assent by President Muhammadu Buhari.