INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye say the electoral umpire is prepared to conduct the Anambra election and transmit results electronically.
Okoye disclosed this Thursday when he featured as a guest on a private national television programme, The Morning Show to discuss the import of the Senate backing of electronic transmission of results for the country’s electoral process and the readiness of the commission to implement e-transmission of results nationwide.
It would be recalled that after months of advocacy and lobbying, the Independent National Electoral Commission finally got the Senate to give it the legal backing to transmit election results electronically.
Okoye said it is gratifying that the Senate obliged after reflecting on the request and the credit must go to the Nigerian people, civil society groups and to the media.
He said, ” we are moving ahead with the Anambra election, postponement is not even an option because that will have severe consequences.
And responding to the cue on section 87which bothers on direct primaries for political parties to elect their candidates, he said ” The issue of conducting party primaries is the prerogative of the party but in conducting their primaries they are under a constitutional obligation to abide by sections 285 and 87 of the electoral act 2010 as amended. We understand the issues around the conduct of party primaries and the myriad of complaints involved. You have to look at the issues holistically. There was a time when aspirants complain that the process was opaque, not transparent, and disenfranchising. Then we now had the direct and indirect primaries and aspirants were still complaining.
The basic challenge with the conduct of direct primary election by political parties is the mandatory nature of the provision that INEC must monitor the elections. The challenge is the huge cost outlay and the huge number of personnel that would be deployed for the exercise. If every political party, 18 in number decides that every member will vote at the 176996 polling units, the implication to monitor it by INEC is huge in terms of cost and personnel. The implication if a party decides to the exercise differently from the local government up, the cost will be multiplied by four.”
Okoye likened the scenario to INEC conducting a full-fledge election. But in his word, ” If the law is passed, INEC shall find a way around it.”
He said INEC is fully ready to conduct the Anambra state election on November 6 as they have already moved on after the unfortunate incident in their office. He said sensitive and non-sensitive materials, training of ad hoc and mainstream staff, security measures, awareness campaigns and others have been put in place to facilitate a hitch free exercise.
The journey to finally getting a nod from the Senate to transmit election results electronically was not so smooth sailing.
Earlier, the Senate had inserted a controversial clause in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill that subjected the electronic transmission of election results by INEC to the approval of the telecoms regulator and the National Assembly.
However, INEC and Nigerians kicked against the insertion of the clause on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and would erode the independence of INEC, thereby compromising the electoral process.
Eventually, the Senate bowed to pressure on Tuesday by deleting the offensive clause and paved the way for INEC to determine the procedure for the transmission of election results.
And with the bold step taken by the upper legislature, all eyes are now on President Muhammadu Buhari to give his assent to the bill after it has been harmonised at the National Assembly.