As the National Assembly resumed on Tuesday, governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have charged the lawmakers to listen to Nigerians on the issue of electronic transmission of election results.
The governors, who also charged the lawmakers to be guided by patriotism and national interest, tasked the National Assembly to rescue the nation’s democracy.
Welcoming the National Assembly from its recess, the governors under the aegis of PDP Governors’ Forum, enjoined it to immediately set up its Conference Committee that would harmonies the different versions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bills passed by both chambers, with a clear mandate to hearken to the wishes of Nigerians and be guided by the national interest, particularly on the issue of electronic transmission of results.
The PDP governors, in a statement by their chairman and governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, insisted that a further delay in passing and assenting to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill will do grievous and irreparable damage to preparations for the conduct of the 2023 elections.
The PDP Governors’ Forum requested the Senate and House of Representatives Conference Committee when set up, to adopt the House version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on the issue of electronic transmission.
It should be noted 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.” And section 52 (2) of the Senate version provides, “The commission may consider electronic transmission of results provided that the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.”
The governors said, “The Senate’s 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 Forum recognised that INEC has 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), usedin the recent bye-election in Delta State.
“Furthermore, it is 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 total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the commission.’
“It is obvious that S.52 (2) of the Senate version is manifestly inconsistent with S.63 (5) contained in the same Bill. No doubt, S.63 (5) which both chambers approved is consistent with S.52 (2) of the House version and should be upheld by the Conference Committee.”