Senate Rejects Electronic Voting, Single Day Elections



The Senate on Monday said it will not legislate on electronic voting

for now, but rather will allow the Independent National Electoral

Commission (INEC) the latitude to commence electronic voting when it

is ready with the appropriate capacity and technology to do so.


This was as the lawmakers turned down proposal for all elections to be

held in one day across the country.


The Senate also voted to remove the powers to appoint INEC Secretary

from the commission’s chairman and place same on the President, which

will in turn be ratified by the red chamber.


Senators took these positions Monday while considering three different

bills on the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010. The bills passed

however, second reading yesterday.


The bills were sponsored by Senators Ike Ekweremadu,(Enugu West), Abu

Ibrahim (Katsina South) and Alkali Jajere (Yobe South).


On the issue of holding all elections in one day, which was proposed

by Senator Ibrahim, almost all the senators who contributed to the

debate were of the opinion that such action may end chaos.


Leading presentation on the bill, Ibrahim said that it falls in line

with global practices and that Nigeria should move in that direction.


The lawmaker noted that unlike staggered elections, which is not cost-

effective and efficient and very expensive, one day election as

practiced in countries like Ghana, Sierra Leon, the United States of

America and Venezuela would be the best for Nigeria.


To buttress his point, Ibrahim said the staggered 2011 elections and

other previous elections, which cost the country huge sums of money to

execute, would reduced the country’s expenses if the one day election

is adopted


Opposing the proposal, senators argued that Nigeria is too large and

that the electoral umpire lacks necessary logistics to cope with one

day election for the country.


Senator Barnabas Gemade for instance while stating his experience in

Kenya, said it took the Independent National Electoral Commission of

Kenya seven days to collate and announce the outcome of the single day

election, with a voting population of 4.3 million and wondered how

Nigeria with a voting population of 74 million could cope with such a



On the issue of electronic voting, most of the senators who

contributed to the debate, also proposed by Senator Ibrahim, argued

that for now, it is obvious that the INEC lacks the necessary capacity

and technology to conduct elections electronically and that as a

result, it would be wrong to compel the electoral umpire to deploy a

system, which it cannot handle.


In particular, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe told the senate that he was

at a recent public event with the INEC chairman, Professor Atahiru

Jega, where the chairman stated clearly that INEC was not ready and

indeed does not have all it takes to conduct electronic voting in the

country for now.


Abaribe said, “Let’s give INEC what it says it needs to be able to

conduct a credible election and not something it cannot handle.”


Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu proposed an amendment of the

Electoral Act on behalf of the Senate Committee on the review of the

1999 constitution. In particular, Ekweremadu sought for a renewable

tenure of four years for INEC Secretary. According to him, the extant

tenure only empowers the commission to appoint a secretary without

stating how long such a person can remain in office.


However, while debating the proposal, senators came to the conclusion

that it was wrong to allow INEC chairman to be the appointing officer

for the office of the secretary of the commission.


The lawmakers came to the conclusion that given the importance of the

office of the secretary to the commission, the appointment to the

office should be made by the President, alongside the commissioners

subject to the ratification of the senate.


The bill by Ekweremadu also sought to increase the number of days

provided for INEC to conduct re-election from seven days to 21 days,

receive and treat application for transfer of voters’ cards from 30 to

60 days as well as receive and treat applications for the duplicate

voters’ cards from 30 days to 60 days.


After extensive debate on the three bills and the necessary

amendments, the three bills passed the second reading and were

committed to third reading.


Meanwhile, INEC has indicated its resolve to strengthen the country’s

electoral system by extending voting rights to Nigerians in the



INEC said it will not relent in its aspiration to make Nigeria’s

electoral system more inclusive by accommodating such classes of



Chairman of the commission, Jega gave the assurance when he accepted

an invitation on behalf of INEC by the Embassy of the Republic of

Indonesia to observe voting by Indonesians in Nigeria, as part of the

Asian country’s parliamentary elections.


Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Kayode Idowu said diaspora

voting by Indonesians in Nigeria will hold on Saturday, April 5, in

Lagos and Sunday, April 6th, in Abuja, at the country’s Consular



According to him, the voting will be conducted as part of the

parliamentary elections in mainland Indonesia scheduled for April 9,




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