We will transmit Electoral Bill to Buhari this week, says National Assembly

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The National Assembly will transmit the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill 2021 to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent this week, it was learnt yesterday.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Senator Kabiru Gaya confirmed the plan in Abuja during a chat with to reporters.

He expressed optimism that President Buhari would sign the Bill into law, notwithstanding the misgiving trailing the direct primary clause.

Gaya said: “I believe that direct primary is taking democracy to the grassroots. That is what President Buhari always talked about.

“It will allow people who are card carrying members of the party to decide who should be their candidate. We are happy with it and we believe that President Buhari will sign the bill very soon.

“The National Assembly will transmit the bill to the President this week for assent and we expect that he will sign it into law by the grace of God.”

The senator insisted that the amendments made to the Electoral Act 2010 were based on the views and requests of Nigerians.

“I believe that it will help to guarantee free, fair and credible elections in the country,” he said.

He said even though the use of the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) device by INEC for the Anambra governorship election was unsatisfactory, he said it would be perfected before the general elections in 2023.

Gaya said: “We keenly watched the Anambra governorship election and we realised that Bivas have serious problems.

“We are surprised that the machines malfunctioned at the Anambra governorship election because they worked perfectly when INEC demonstrated them for us at the  committee.

“We have agreed to try the machines in other elections coming up in 2022 so as to determine their functionality before the 2023 general elections.

“We still have the Ekiti and Osun elections coming up. However, INEC is already working on the solution so that we would not have problems in 2023.

“I will not agree that it is a case of sabotage because it is an electronic device that could fail but we already have provisions for spare. If a machine fails, a new one would be brought in.

“It is even good that it happened in the Anambra governorship election. If it had happened at the general elections, it would be a catastrophe.

“Unlike in the past when funds for elections were not released a few weeks to elections, this time, we specifically mentioned that part of the funds meant for the election must be provided a year before the election.

“That is why we have a proposal for partial  release of N100billion for for the 2023 general elections in the 2022 budget.  We are hoping that we could get further funding before the election.

“The N100 billion will allow INEC to order materials that it would need ahead of the elections including machines that could be manufactured here in the country.”

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