Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has asked the national assembly to empower the electoral body to take decisions on technology options for elections.
Yakubu spoke on Thursday when he met with the national assembly conference committee on the electoral act amendment bill in Abuja.
It was reported that the senate and the house of representatives set up the committees to harmonize the differences in the bill passed by both chambers in July.
Addressing the members of the panel, the INEC chairman said the commission needs a regulation that will enable it to be innovative and not restrictive on the type of technology to use in an election.
“The electoral act is one of the most important laws in any democracy. An election is a process anchored on a legal framework. First is the constitution, followed by the electoral act. In all jurisdictions, the electoral act provides more detailed provisions to govern the conduct of elections and the electoral process,” he said.
“One of the unique aspects of the current amendment of the electoral act is that it started well ahead of the forthcoming general election, unlike previous exercises which came too close to elections.
The importance of starting early is that it allows for a thorough debate by citizens on aspects of the bill long after the conventional public hearing as witnessed recently. Clearly, the electoral amendment bill 2021 is one of the most extensively debated bills in Nigeria.
Understandably, the issue of technology in elections has dominated recent public discussions in Nigeria. The commission appreciates the decision of the national assembly to empower INEC to determine and deploy appropriate technology in future elections.
For us in INEC, this is one of the progressive decisions by our national assembly. As you finalize the electoral amendment bill, I urge you to continue to endow the Commission with the power to determine what technology to deploy in our elections at the appropriate time.
One way of doing so is to make broad provisions of the law that will empower the commission to continue to innovate without restricting us to a specific technology such as the smart card reader, which could in due course become obsolete, inapplicable, or irrelevant as is already the case following the recent introduction of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) by the commission.”
The INEC chairman added that the speedy passage of the amendment bill will improve the electoral process.
According to him, the commission will continue to work with the national assembly to “identify areas that require the formulation of regulations and guidelines” to enhance the conduct of elections in the country.