By Ohunenese Adewale
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Thursday that with the proposed reform of the electoral Act, the 2019 election may be the last “mainly manual” election in Nigeria.
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakub said this is achievable with the support of the National Assembly, tasking the lawmakers to expedite action on the amendment of the electoral Act.
He spoke in Lagos during the opening of a two day retreat with the National Assembly Committees on Electoral Matters.
The retreat was declared open by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo Agege with members of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters in attendance.
The Chairman said part of the proposed reform in the electoral system was to deepen the deployment of technology in elections in addition to the existing electronic voters register and accreditation.
He said, “It is time for a new legislation to remove all encumbrances to further deployment of technology in the electoral process, especially in the accreditation of voters and transmission of election results.
“Sections 49 and 67 of the draft Bill deal with these twin issues. These sections will be thoroughly discussed at this retreat. Working with the National Assembly, it is our hope that the 2019 general election will be the last mainly manual election in Nigeria.”
He said the expeditious passage of the Electoral Act amendment is critical to the preparations for the next general elections.
“Where the passage of the Bill is delayed, it will affect the formulation of regulations and guidelines as well as the review and publication of the manual necessary for the training of ad-hoc staff for elections because both documents draw from the legal framework.”
Deputy Senate President said, “Without question, the 9th National Assembly is firmly committed to electoral reform. We recognise across party lines that it is in our nation’s best interest to work together to strengthen our electoral laws and, consequently, better protect this very important and consequential democracy on the African continent.”
Chairman, Senate Committee on Electoral Matters, Senator Kabir Gaya said the ongoing amendment into the electoral Act was to, among others, “reduce election litigation predicated on unlawful exclusion of candidates; create room for introduction of other technological devices such as the card reader, among others; to enhance and improve the integrity of the electoral process.”