Breaking: Finally Senate Adopts Electronic Transmission Of Election Results In Nigeria

The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to rescind its decision which subjected the Independent National Electoral Commission to seek approval from the Nigerian Communications Commission before it could transmit elections results electronically.

The upper chamber also voted in support of the conduct of party primaries only by direct method.

The Bill is titled, “Recommittal of amended clauses of a bill for an Act to repeal the Electoral Bill 2021 and enact the Electoral Act 2021.”

The Senate had in July, during consideration of a report on 2010 Electoral Act ( Amendment ) Bill 2021 submitted by its Committee on INEC, amended clause 52(3) as recommended.

While the clause as presented by the committee in the report says INEC can transmit election results electronically where and when practicable, the Senate passed the amended version which says “INEC can transmit election results electronically subject to confirmation of the NCC based on adequacy and security of National Network.

The House of Representatives at the time, adopted the clause as originally recommended by committees of both Chambers on INEC.

Consequently, the Senate has been in the eye of the storm which made it make the amendment.

Clause 52: has to do with the conduct of poll by open secret ballot.

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Sub section (2) now reads, “Subject to section 63 of this Bill, voting at an election and transmission of results under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission, (INEC) which may include electronic voting.”

The upper chamber position electronic transmission of election results, a position that was contained in the Conference Committee report submitted to the chamber.

The electronic transmission of election results which is a provision in clause 53 of the Electoral amendment act places on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the right to transmit results without subjecting their discretion to any other organ as was firstly captured that generated controversy.

Adoption wasn’t, however, without heated debate which was brought under control by the presiding Senate President.

Before the adoption in the Committee of the whole, Senator Adamu Aliero and former governor of Kebbi State in his submission urged Senators to support the amendment in order to strengthen democracy.

He said: This is a move that will deepen our democracy and a move that will make the electorate to vote according to their conscience. This will put paid to criminals having their way as people of questionable character can no longer be voted.

Senator Smart Adeyemi representing Kogi West opposed the amendment on clause 87 which deals with direct primaries of political parties. He advocated strongly for some political parties who lack the capacity to organise direct primaries. He said it should be left for party executives to conduct indirect primaries.

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However, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele representing Ekiti Central Senatorial districts said every card-carrying member of a political party should be allowed to vote for their aspirants.

According to him, the mode of party primary which is determined by all party members would be more democratic than indirect where a few party executives vote for aspirants.

“I support this motion and like to mention specifically that in clause 87 that every card-carrying member of any political party should be able to vote and it is a way of giving power back to the people.

“This is not about any political party, every political party will enjoy this, therefore, let every party member have the opportunity to vote who they wanted.”

Senator Abdulfatai Buhari representing Oyo North corroborated in his submission, saying those opposed to direct primaries were afraid, wondering that if a contestant was as popular as he thinks, then he or she needed not to be afraid.

“Let’s practice democracy in accordance with the global best practices. I see no reason why anybody should be afraid of direct primaries as it goes to solve problems of aspirants.

Senator Shuaibu Lau representing Taraba North Senatorial district called for caution in not tieing political parties to a form of conducting primaries. He said the mode of conducting primaries should be left for parties to decide.

He maintained: “I agree with amendment of clause 87 which has to do with political party primaries.

We must, therefore, not tie parties to one way traffic of conducting primaries and not because there are beliefs that governors are hijacking parties and not free parties to democratically elect their leaders.

When the chamber resorted to the committee of the whole, the electronic means of transmitting election results was passed, while political parties are to determine how their primaries are conducted.

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