By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
Members of the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters have agreed to join the electoral umpire (INEC) in the concluding part of its proposed amendment to the electoral legal framework.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu confirmed this yesterday at opening of a retreat on the review of the electoral legal framework in Lagos.
Yakubu disclosed that members of the Senate Committee on INEC and House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters will be joining the Commission at the retreat on Thursday and Friday this week in Lagos for in-depth review of both their proposal and our input.
According to him, this is the first time that the National Assembly and INEC are coming together on electoral reform, stressing that the Commission looks forward to the opportunity to serve Nigerians better.
In the words of Prof Yakubu, “I am glad to know that members of the Senate Committee on INEC and House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters are joining us on Thursday and Friday for in-depth review of both their proposal and our input.
“This is the first time that the National Assembly and INEC are coming together on electoral reform. We look forward to this opportunity to serve Nigerians better”, he said.
Going down the memory lane, the Chairman said, “Late last year, the Commission received from the Senate Committee on INEC a modified version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which the National Assembly had presented to the executive for assent before the 2019 general election.
“The revised Bill has amended several sections and subsections of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). In presenting the draft Bill to the Commission, the Senate Committee specifically requested for the Commission’s input into areas that will strengthen the proposed legislation.
“In turn, the Commission shared the draft Bill internally with the National Commissioners and Directors at the Headquarters as well as the Resident Electoral Commissioners and senior officials in the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for comments.
“These comments have now been compiled into a draft document that this retreat will discuss and validate as the Commission’s position on the electoral legal framework.
“The Commission’s draft document has also taken the comments and suggestions by stakeholders into consideration, especially following the conclusion of the 2019 general election. “You will recall that the Commission had organized a series of post-election review meetings ending with a retreat here in Lagos in July last year. Participants in the series of consultative meetings strongly canvassed for electoral reforms at the heart of which is the review of the electoral legal framework.
“For an enduring review, the Commission looked at the electoral legal framework comprehensively.
“The Commission reviewed existing provisions with regard to elections in both the Constitution and the Electoral Act, although for the purpose of this retreat the focus of attention is on the Electoral Act.
“The procedures for constitutional alterations are handled separately, including a different procedure for harnessing citizens’ input.
“Our draft is ready but requires further internal review ahead of submission to the National Assembly, he stated.
The INEC Chairman however thanked the Commission’s development partners-the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)-for their untiring support to “our electoral and democratic processes”.