We’ll amend Electoral Act – Saraki

We’ll amend Electoral Act – Saraki
June 07 06:24 2016

Senate President, Dr
Bukola Saraki, has announced plans by the National
Assembly to
amend the Electoral Act to
strengthen the country’s electoral
process.
Saraki stated this at a summit
on elections, organised by the
Senate Committee on Independent
National Electoral Commission
(INEC) in collaboration with the
Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre
(PLAC) on Monday in Abuja.
He said that emerging issues in
the electoral process had indicated
that a lot needed to be done to
meet the yearnings of Nigerians
by ensuring free, fair and
credible elections.

“We must remain keenly aware
that more than ever before the
Nigerian people demand a
responsible government whose
fate, they alone can determine.
“It all starts with having a virile
electoral system with impeccable
integrity and universal
application as minimum
standards.
“We must fashion out an electoral
scheme that does not
disenfranchise any Nigerian, one
that does not have room for ballot
tampering and manipulation.

’’
He assured that the legislature
would perform better with
recommendations from
participants on how to arrive at
free and fair election.
Saraki urged participants to
deliberate on issues that had
affected the conduct of free, fair
and credible elections in the
country.
“For so long now, our citizens in the Diaspora
have demanded inclusion in the democratic
process, a right afforded in many other
countries to citizens, irrespective of location.
“This is similar to the now germane issue of
the voting opportunity of IDPs and people
living in severely-challenged, hard-to-reach
areas either due to security or other
unforeseen challenges.
“It will be important to take another look at
the role of our security personnel from the
Police to the Department of State Security and
the military.

“This is so in the light of certain revelations
that the previous government had signed into
law an amendment to the Electoral Act
empowering the military to be used during
elections for a variety of reasons.
“A corollary to this is the issue of the viability
or otherwise of setting up electoral offences
tribunal charged with dealing with electoral
offences.
“This is especially important as there is an
overwhelming national consensus to end
election related violence and enthrone a new
election culture built on integrity, safety and
neutrality,’’ he said.
Saraki also called for deliberation on the
desirability of the card reader in the electoral
elections.

He commended the British Department for
International Development (DFID) and the
Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) for
collaborating with the senate on the summit.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike
Ekweremadu, on his part, called for early
conduct of primaries by political parties to
make the nation’s electoral process more
credible.
He said that late conduct of primaries posed
serious challenges to the electoral system, and
stressed the need for Nigeria to learn from
international best practices.
“In the United States of America, presidential
primaries for presidential candidates start
about twelve months to the election,
culminating in the convention.

“In Ghana, although neither the Constitution
nor the Electoral Act gives any specific period
for the conduct of presidential and
parliamentary primaries, individual parties
have provisions in their respective
constitutions for early primaries,’’
Ekweremadu said.
He said that early primaries would afford
parties and candidates the opportunity to
shape their identity and future direction.
In his remarks, Chairman, Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof.
Mahmood Yakubu, assured that all pending
re-run elections would be concluded on or
before July 31.

He called for amendment of the 2010 Electoral
Act to ensure that candidates whose elections
were nullified as a result of improper
nominations by their candidates should have
their certificates re-issued to the runner-up.
According to him, doing so will save the
nation the huge cost of conducting fresh
elections in such circumstances.
Yakubu accused political parties of
compounding democratic challenges by failing
to properly nominate candidates.

(NAN)