By Nathaniel Gana
16th March 2021
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is working hard on the resumption of voters’ registration and the speedy passage of the Electoral Amendment Bill, the Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has assured.
Speaking at the Commission’s Consultative Meeting with Labour Unions and Professional Associations on the proposed expansion of voter access to polling units, held today in Abuja, Prof. Yakubu said the planned resumption of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would enable citizens that had not registered and those seeking to transfer their registration to other areas where they wish to vote in future elections to do so.
He said the Commission was also working on new innovations aimed at deepening the deployment of technology to improve electoral integrity in Nigeria.
On the amendment of the Electoral Act, Prof Yakubu said the National Assembly has given the assurance that all the required work on the Act will be concluded within the next few months. “This is critical to our work because it is the legal framework that governs our activities,” he said, adding, “let me once again appeal to the National Assembly for expeditious consideration and passage of the Bill.”
Prof. Yakubu revealed that the Commission was also in the process engaging with the leadership of the National Assembly over the division, revision and alteration of electoral constituencies in Nigeria. His words: “The Commission’s discussion paper on the matter is being finalized.”
In continuation of its efforts to build a broad national consensus over the proposed expansion of voter access to polling units, Prof. Yakubu told representatives of professional bodies and labour unions that the idea was aimed at addressing the crisis of voter access to polling units across the country.
He expressed satisfaction over the outcome of previous consultations with other stakeholder groups, describing it as encouraging. He assured that all inputs received would assist the Commission in formulating the Guidelines for the implementation of the policy.
Hs said: “We are encouraged by the outcome of the consultations held so far. These consultations are helping us in formulating the Guidelines on the option preferred by stakeholders as we proceed to the implementation stage which will also involve further consultations in the field.”
On the upcoming bye-elections, Prof. Yakubu said: “Over the next three weeks, the Commission will conduct bye-elections in three States of the federation, starting with Ekiti East State Constituency 1 this weekend, followed by the Aba North/Aba South Federal Constituency bye-election in Abia State on 27th March 2021 and then the Isoko North State Constituency in Delta State on 10th April 2021.
He continued: “We wish to assure the registered voters and all stakeholders in the affected constituencies that the Commission is ready for these bye-elections. Again, like all the elections held since August last year, results from the Polling Units will be uploaded to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) for public view in real-time on Election Day.”
Responding on behalf of the Professional Associations and Labour Unions present, Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and Executive Secretary, Nigeria Elections Debate Group, (NEDG), Mr. Eddie Emessiri, commended the Commission for the detailed document on the proposed expansion of voter access to polling units shared at the meeting. He urged the Commission to comply with the data provided in order to avoid any problems that may arise as a result of improper implementation of policies.
In attendance at the meeting were National Commissioners: Mr. Mohammed Kudu Haruna, Barrister May Agbamuche-Mbu, Festus Okoye Esq., Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Tijjani Mu’azu (Rtd), Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, and Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu.
Others include the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs. Rose Oriaran-Anthony, Chairman’s Technical team comprising the Chief Technical Adviser, Prof. Bolade Eyinla, Special Adviser, Prof. Mohammad Kuna and Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi as well the Director General (DG) the Electoral Institute, Dr. Sa’ad Idris and other Directors of the Commission.