ELECTORAL ACT 2010 AMENDEMNT: MATTERS ARISING
The National Assembly, if they fulfil their promise will in the next few days pass the 2021 Electoral Bill which seeks to repeal the 2010 Electoral Act as amended. Into an Act of Parliament if signed by the President. However, there are fears that the provisions envisaged by the citizens and expectations thereof may be dashed by some provisions in this Bill by the National Assembly. Laws are made in the interest and benefit of the people and not for those in power.
The Bill has made provisions for Election Funds for INEC to be released to the EMB not later than one year before the next general elections. There is also provision for electronic voting. Each political party in consultation with their candidates will be mandated to submit the names, address and contact details of their polling agents accompanied by two passport photographs and a sample signature of that agent to be submitted at least 14 days before the election and this will be in writing to the Resident Electoral Commission.
The Centre for Transparency Advocacy is concerned with the rising agitation that the National Assembly is set to pass the amended Electoral Bil without the inputs made by citizens that meets the aspirations towards a free, fair, and credible elections in Nigeria. The alarm raised by the civil society and concerned Nigerians is justified based on the penchant of our elected representatives to represent their personal instead of our collective interests.
The following are our concerns.
1. Non transmission of results by electronic means
2. Powers of the Returning Officers to declare results.
3. Election campaign expenses
NON TRANSMITION OF RESULTS BY ELECTRONIC MEANS
Section 50 (2) Voting at an election under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission, which may include electronic voting PROVIDED that the Commission shall not transmit results of elections by electronic means (this section was part of section 52 of the 2010 Act as amended)
While there is an improvement in the new provision by allowing INEC to conduct electronic voting, however, the provision not to transmit the same result electronicallynegates.
1. the gains made from the Edo and Ondo States governorship elections and other bye or rerun elections thereafter. The use of the INEC election result portal was plausible and therefore increased citizens confidence in the electoral process and integrity of results.
2. The cost of manual collation as was raised during the public hearing would be reduced drastically by the transmission of results electronically.
DECISION AND POWERS OF THE RETURNING OFFICER ON BALLOT PAPERS
Section 65 (1) The decision of the Returning Officer shall be final from any question arising from or relating to
1. Unmarked ballot paper,
2. Rejected ballot paper,
3. Declaration of scores of candidates and the return of a candidate
(2). A decision of the Returning officer under subsection (1) may be reviewed by Election Tribunal or Court of competent jurisdiction in an election petition proceeding under this Bill.
1. This provision stripes INEC of the powers to intervene in the process of result declaration in cases where results are declared through duress or any other fraudulent manner.
2. In our opinion, INEC should be allowed to review declarations of results that negates free, and fair process.
3. In a situation where politicians force returning officers or where corrupt returning officers declare results that lack transparency and integrity does not augur well with our democracy and credible elections in Nigeria.
ELECTION CAMPAIGN EXPENSES
(2) The maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a Presidential election shall not exceed 15,000,000,000.00
(3) The maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred by a candidate in respect of governorship election shall not exceed 5,000,000.00
(4) The maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate in respect of senatorial and House of Representatives shall not exceed 1,500,000.00 and 500,000,000.00 respectively.
(5) In the case of State Assembly election, the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred by a candidate shall not exceed 50,000,000.00
(6) In the case of a chairmanship election to an Area Council, the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred by a candidate shall not exceed 50,000,000.00
1. We are concerned that the National Assembly is set to increase election expenses especially the presidential election expenses by 1500 percent even though citizens wish is that the initial one billion naira be reduced so as to have affordable campaigns.
2. Effectively, women and young persons are disenfranchised as the campaigns are highly monetized and affordable to only the rich.
3. This provision will inadvertently promote vote trading during elections.
We are worried that the National Assembly seems to be more interested in reforms that will benefit them insteadof improving our elections and the integrity of the electoral process across the entire electoral value chain. The members of the National Assembly are accountable to Nigerians and therefore, the aspirations and wishes of Nigerians must subsume any parochial or selfish interest. The National Assembly must not be seen as sabotaging the efforts of the Election Management Board by making laws that are retrogressive, unproductive, negative and retards the growth of Democracy.
The Centre for Transparency Advocacy are in support of having a strong INEC that will conduct a free, fair, and credible elections that will stand the tastes of time.
We equally, call on citizens, patriots, the civil society, students, religious and traditional leaders to prevail on the National Assembly to do the wishes of the people.
Executive Director, CTA