By Omolosho Fatai Olamilekan and Adebayo Fajinmi
KADUNA State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai said the people of the state have once again shown that there was no hurdle to the adoption of electronic voting in Nigeria.
He portrayed the outcome of just concluded Local Government Council elections in the state as a demonstration of the All Progressives Congress -led administration’s commitment to free and fair election.
El-Rufai said this in a statewide radio and television broadcast, in Kaduna on Tuesday.
The governor hailed the people of Kaduna State for “showing for the second time that there is no obstacle to the successful adoption of electronic voting technology in Nigeria.’’
El-Rufai recalled that “voters in Kaduna state first made history on 12th May 2018 when they cast their ballots on electronic voting machines to elect chairmen and councillors for the 23 local government councils in our state.”
He described the successful conduct of the elections as a victory for democracy and a push upward for unity.
He stated that the victory of the APC in Southern Kaduna Senatorial District was a crucial step towards advancing political consensus in the state and overcoming division.
He noted that his administration has “placed the credibility and integrity of the electoral process above the discredited practice of previous governments that sought to win every contested seat by all means.”
He stated that the election has positioned Kaduna State as the first in Nigeria to use electronic voting, the first sub-national in Africa to do that and has also placed Nigeria as only the second country in Africa after Namibia to use the technology.
He said “The local government elections of 4th September 2021 further validate the Kaduna State Government’s decision to invest in Electronic Voting Machines to promote electoral integrity and transparency.
“Kaduna state is proudly upholding a new chapter in elections in Nigeria, using electronic voting technology, championed by a government that is determined to respect the outcome, win or lose.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the national assembly have been at loggerhead on the Electoral Amendment Act Bill, dealing with electronic transmission.
The lawmakers had asked INEC to seek the approval of the NCC before going on with e-transmission of results. However, INEC, through its Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, on Tuesday said it did not need the approval of the Nigerian Communications Commission to transmit election results electronically.
The chairman said the newly introduced Bimodal Voter Accreditation System would replace the Smart Card Reader and Z-pad, adding that it would take care of the challenges of over-voting and double voting.
He also spoke on the Anambra State gubernatorial election scheduled for November 6, saying, “ithe next few days, the commission will compile the register of new voters and publish it throughout the state for claims and objections.”
INEC said that the decision of the National Assembly to subject its constitutional power to conduct elections to the NCC is absolutely unconstitutional.
Speaking at the third quarterly meeting of INEC with media executives in Abuja, the commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman (Electoral Operations and Logistic Committee), Okechukwu Ibeanu, said rather than seeking the approval of NCC, INEC had the constitutional mandate to impose duties on NCC in order to achieve the electronic transmission of results.
He said, “That is absolutely unconstitutional. You cannot ask INEC to seek the approval of another agency of government to transmit result electronically when actually INEC has power to impose duties on NCC to achieve electronic transmission of results.”
Reactions of Political Parties
While reacting, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan, in an interview with journalists stands with INEC’s position that there is no need to get the approval of the NCC to transfer election results electronically.
He said, “The law establishing INEC gives it powers to set the template for the smooth conduct of elections; it was the same law it used to introduce the card reader which has improved our electoral system.”
Similarly, the National Secretary of the APC, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, said, “INEC is the regulator of political parties; political parties can’t tell it what to do. The APC, as you know, is a law-abiding party; we are always guided by the provisions of the law.”