By Nathaniel Gana
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of relevant legislations guiding the conduct of elections in the country, to give the Commission ample time to prepare for the 2019 general elections.
He made the call on 3rd November when Steering Committee members of the Nigerian Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS), led by their Chairman, Hon. Aminu Shehu Shagari, visited the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Prof. Yakubu observed that since the next polls were only 470 days away (from 3rd November, 2017), early passage of the legal framework for the conduct of elections in the country would assist the Commission in planning adequately.
His words: “As we approach the 2019 General Elections, there are a number of issues I think we can collaborate on with the NILS. As we speak today, we have 470 days to the 2019 general elections. It is therefore urgent for the National Assembly to continue to expedite action on passing the appropriate legislations, so that we have enough time between the time the law is finally assented to and the period before the conduct of elections.”
The INEC Chairman also spoke on the budget for the next general elections. According to him, a clear picture would emerge by next week, when the Commission considers and approves its draft Election Project Plan.
He commended the NILS’ role as a non-partisan organ of the legislature, especially for its contributions to the democratic process. He said it was the Commission’s desire to develop greater ties with the Institute in the area of capacity building and trainings for Political Parties, which he said would boost the Commission’s work.
Hon Shagari, who is also a Member of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, said the visit was to seek the Commission’s cooperation in building virile democratic institutions in the country through sustainable capacity building.
He disclosed that the NILS would soon begin to run a Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s Degree programmes in Elections and Political Party Management, in affiliation with the University of Benin (UNIBEN). He implored the Commission to enroll its staff for the new courses.