By Christiana Ekpa
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has assured that legislative work on the Electoral Act and the Constitution amendment would be concluded in a matter of weeks.
Ekweremadu disclosed this on Monday when he received a delegation of the British High Commission in Nigeria led by the High Commissioner, Mr. Paul Arkwright.
Ekweremadu, who expressed gratitude to the British government for always showing interest in state of the Nigerian union and her democracy, said that concluding the amendments to the Electoral Act and Constitution amendment was top on the priority list of the 8th National Assembly to ensure better governance and smooth elections in 2019.
He said: “The 2019 election is very important to Nigeria. The amendments to the Electoral Act and the Constitution all form part of the ongoing electoral reform to continue to improve on the quality of our elections.
“In the previous amendment, a timeframe was set for the determination of election petitions. Now we are working on setting a timeframe for pre-election matters. In the previous amendments, we also created a window for direct and indirect primary by political parties. In the current amendment, we want to make more elaborate provisions regarding direct party primaries for political parties that may wish to adopt it to ensure greater fairness, transparency, and internal democracy in choosing their flag bearers.
“We are also working to lift the restrictions on the use of electronic voting by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. That way, it will be up to the election management body to determine if it is sufficiently prepared to deploy electronic voting or when to adopt electronic voting”.
Ekweremadu was also of the view that the rearrangement of the order of election as passed by the House of Representatives, if adopted by the Conference Committee of both Houses, would help the electorate to judge each candidate on his or her own merit at each level of election.
“The bottom line is that the Conference Committees on both the Electoral Act and Constitution Amendment are meeting separately this week to conclude work on the entire amendments to ensure a smoother and more credible electoral processes as well as promote good governance of the country”, he added.
Earlier, the British High Commissioner, Mr. Arkwright, said they had come to see the Deputy President of the Senate on political developments, especially as it concerned the prospects for the Peoples Democratic Party and legislative activities of the National Assembly.
“The legislative programme, which you have in the Senate and the National Assembly, the changes to the electoral laws are also important to us”, Arkwright concluded.