The Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Abubakar Kyari, has said the country’s electoral reforms will be ready two years ahead of the 2019 general election.
Kyari, who is representing the Borno-North senatorial district in the Senate, told journalists, on Wednesday, in Maiduguri, that the case of introducing reforms into the electoral process a few days to the general election as it was done last year would been prevented.
He decried the action of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan who signed 20 amendments into law, two days to the 2015 general election.
He said, “We want to give opportunities for people to be familiar with the reforms long before the election. We also want the reforms to be tested before the 2019 general election.”
He maintained that the Senate had hoped to test some of the expected reforms during the Edo or the Ondo governorship poll, but regretted that the reforms were not ready yet.
Kyari said, “We were hoping to subject some of the reforms to test during either the Edo or Ondo governorship election, but it was quite unfortunate that we could not have them ready. We pray to have them ready before the Anambra governorship election.
“We, as a committee, want to finish anything about the reforms before December. We want to make the reforms holistic.
“The Senate committee and that of the House of Representatives have both agreed to finish work on the reforms before December and then pass it on for assent. We want everything about the reforms to be concluded two years before the 2019 general election. We are very cautious and do not want what happened last year before the general election when some reforms were introduced two days before the election, to happen again.”
He revealed that some of the issues to be addressed under the proposed reforms included independent candidacy, diaspora voting, card reader and electronic voting.
On the criticism that greeted the postponement of the Edo governorship election, he said INEC was forced to postponement the election due to the weight of the security report suggesting that the process could be marred by an attack.
He said, “Security agencies, especially the police, showed strong evidence of a planned attack and the need for the election to be postponed. INEC never wanted to postpone the election. It was at the last minute they gave in to the advice of the security agencies to postpone the election.
“The police and the DSS said they could not guarantee security during the election. INEC felt anything could happen and it would be held responsible. INEC had planned to use over 20,000 people during the election and it would really have been a sad story if anyone had died and INEC would have been blamed.”
He said he did not see the postponement affecting the outcome of the election as many had envisaged.
Kyari said, “I have seen and heard so many things in the media, especially the allegation that the election was postponed in order to give the ruling party an edge. I do not want to believe this. If you could remember, during last year’s general election, there was postponement by six weeks and I do not think it changed any expected outcome.
“Whatever you do during the countdown to an election will not change the outcome. It is just like postponing the inevitable.”