From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum has challenged he National Assembly to immediately set up a conference committee to harmonise the two versions of the Electoral Act Amendment its two chambers passed recently.
The forum also charged the National Assembly to adopt the version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives, as it gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the latitude to adopt electronic transmission of election results.
The governors further charged the National Assembly conference committee on the electoral act amendment bill to jettison the position of the House to compel all political parties to adopt one method of conducting primary elections.
Chairman of the forum and Sokoto Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, in a statement, yesterday, said the delay in passing and assenting to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill would hamper preparations for the conduct of the 2023 polls.
“The PDP Governors’ Forum requests 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 Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.”
“The Senate 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.”
Tambuwal said INEC has demonstrated capacity to transmit votes electronically with the introduction and deployment of the Biomodel Voters Accreditation System (BVAs) used in the recent bye-election in Delta State. The Forum is of the view that political parties should be allowed discretion to adopt either direct or indirect primaries in their constitutions and in practice.
“The Senate version that retains the original provision in the Electoral Act should be adopted in the interest of the growth of our political parties and freedom of choice, the hallmark of a functional democracy.
“This intervention of the PDP governors is predicted on the need to ensure a free, fair and credible election, that strengthens Nigeria’s democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law. Only a credible election will guarantee accountability and good governance which Nigeria so desperately needs today.”