By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given assurance that the 2010 Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which currently lay before the Senate, would be passed as soon as the Senate returns from its annual vacation in September this year.
The Committee Chairman, Senator Kabir Gaya (APC Kano South), who gave the assurance, said the Senate has gone far in the task of amending the 2010 Electoral Act, and would soon pass the amendments into an Act of the parliament.
According to him, the committee had shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic held interactive workshop with stakeholders and will soon hold a public hearing on the issue before the presentation of the report to Senate at plenary later in the year.
He said: “Few months before the COVID-19 pandemic we had a retreat in Lagos with INEC commissioners, the Chairman himself and other international stakeholders came in also to contribute to the process and all members had a draft of the Electoral Act Amendment, which we discussed.
“We also invited INEC to give us their input based on their experience in the last few elections and the problem they had with the Act, what will be their advice on the areas to amend or his own suggestions on the amendment on the existing Act.
“We have compiled the two reports and we intend to have a public hearing. We were just discussing with the members how soon we will do the public hearing so that we can present this report to the Senate for the third reading and then forward it to the President for signing of the amended Act, I believe we are working hard.
“For Nigerians who are really keen, we are also ready and keen in passing it. Members of the committee are with experience, ranking Senators with experience, former Governors with experience and we have gone through this reports and I believe Nigerians will be happy with the final Electoral Act 2020.
“We are all committed to seeing this Act completed within the next few months. As soon as we come back from vacation, the Electoral Act will be laid on the floor of the Senate, even during the break, because of the commitment of our members, we can conduct public hearing to get this done that is a sacrifice by members. So we are equally committed even more”, he added.
Responding to question on the level of acceptability which the Amended Electoral Bill currently enjoy among the lawmakers, Gaya said “I don’t believe there is any conspiracy to stop it, we are all committed, we are fully in it”.
“The issue of electronic voting which is also part of it is in the Electoral Act we have to pass it and send it to the President, we have to pass it as soon as possible so that the process or even preparing those materials and the process of a pilot project to see if can work well.
“We are making efforts and we are assuring Nigerians that a few months from now we will get the electoral act ready”, according to him.