National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has said his Commission is awaiting passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law before it could unveil the timetable and schedule of activities for the next general elections.
Professor Yakubu said this on Tuesday in Abuja in his Commission headquarter during the first quarterly meeting with the leadership of political parties.
He expressed the hope that the leadership of the National Assembly led by the Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly, Ahmad Lawan, would live up to its promise to conclude the task.
He said: “On the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before the National Assembly, the Commission is encouraged by the Senate President’s assurance to give priority attention to the Bill when the National Assembly reconvenes from its recess today, and the commitment by the President to assent to the Bill as soon as the issue of mode of primaries by political parties is resolved. We look forward to a speedy passage of the Bill, which is crucial to our preparations for future elections. As soon as it is signed into law, the Commission will quickly release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election based on the new law.”
The INEC Chairman who described 2022 as a very busy year for the Commission and the political parties, disclosed further that his Commission would tidy up its data of eligible voters this year ahead of the next general elections.
“At the moment, the Commission is undertaking the most comprehensive cleaning up of the data to ensure that only eligible citizens are added to the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election and will share our findings with Nigerians and the actual dates for the collection of the PVCs nationwide will be announced very soon. I want to request that you continue to encourage eligible voters who have not registered to do so, bearing in mind that those who had registered at any time previously need not register again. Also, encourage voters who wish to transfer from their present Polling Units to new ones created as part of the Commission’s expansion of voter access polling units to do so immediately.”
In his remarks, Chairman of the Action Democratic Party and new Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, Engineer Yagbagi Sani called on the leadership of the National Assembly and the Executive arm of government to give urgent attention to the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
“Perhaps, the most serious and potent impediment to the successful conduct of the 2023 general elections, is the lingering debacle between the Executive and the Legislature on the fate of the 2021 Electoral (Amendment) Bill. While time is dangerously running out for the resolution of the disputes between the two arms, the IPAC is of the position that the controversy may have been contrived in the first instance, purely and clearly in the pursuits of narrow and self-centred political ambitions of some of the gladiators.
“We are, therefore, using this occasion to once again make our strident call for the immediate resolution of the unnecessary impasse over the Electoral Amendment Bill in the superior and overriding national interest. The IPAC has persistently suggested at various forums that, the first rational step in the circumstance, is for the two apex legislative houses to immediately expunge from the Bill, the provisions that make it mandatory for political parties to use Direct Primary elections in the selection of their flag bearers in general elections.
“Going forward, we have also called on the President to thereafter, assent to the Bill without delay. Our concern in the IPAC is that failure to reach a compromise in the short run may invariably translate into the death of the other very crucial provisions, such as the provisions on the Electronic Transmission of election results. As it is, compromise and shifting of grounds in respect of the Bill by the two arms of government, incidentally controlled by the same political party, the APC, should not ideally, be too cumbersome a task to accomplish.
“In their review of the Bill before passage for presidential assent, the IPAC is further suggesting that the National Assembly should seize the opportunity to look into the various aspects of the statute to ensure the eradication of grey areas on the basis of which the President had withheld his assent in the 2019 attempt at its amendment by the National Assembly. In that regard, the Legislators will do well to collaborate with INEC and other strategic stakeholders such as the IPAC to guarantee the elimination of errors, ambiguities and non-compliance with provisions of the Constitution.
We at the IPAC are anticipating the emergence of an Electoral Act that will address among others, the lingering and fundamental issues relating to the legalization of Electronic Accreditation of Voters as well as, the transmission of election results; issues relating to substitution of candidates in the event of death in an election; a redefinition of what amounts to over-voting; early release of election funds to INEC; early commencement of campaigns by political parties and, the period that political parties are legally allowed to commence campaigns in the countdown to elections.”