Sunday, July 18, 2021 6:59 pm
Senate President Ahmed Lawan said he and his colleagues were aware of the possible evil of not transmitting election results electronically from the polling stations by the Independent National Electoral Commission, but were guided by the need to protect the interests of all Nigerians in the decision they took during the passage of Electoral Act Amendment Bill last Thursday.
The Senate President who also disclosed that a conference committee will be set up by both the Senate and the House of Representatives to harmonise their positions on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 spoke at the weekend while on a visit to his Yobe North Senatorial District, according to a report in ThisDay newspaper.
Lawan who was reacting to ongoing controversies over the conditional approval given to INEC for electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill claimed that over 50 per cent of Nigerian voters would have been disenfranchised if the lawmakers had given their assent total e-transmission.
The majority of the senators had while approving the section of the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill that deals with transmission of result, voted that: “The Commission (INEC) may consider electronic transmission of results, provided the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the National Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.”
He added that even his colleagues who voted against the immediate application or deployment of electronic transmission of results from the polling units, to the ward, to the local government, states and federal were not against electronic transmission (of election results).
According to him, most of the 109 senators believe that the electoral process must deploy electronic transmission so that it eases and enhances the electoral process and give it more credibility and integrity.
He said: “We know the evils of not transmitting results electronically but compare the evils of electronically transmitting just half of the electoral votes from Nigerians and say you have elected a president with 50 per cent only. And others have voted but their results or their votes could not be electronically transmitted. This is disenfranchising Nigerians and we are not going to support this kind of thing because essentially, we are supposed to be fair to every part of Nigeria and when we voted, every part of Nigeria voted for and against (the amendment).
“What I mean here is that you have senators from northern part of Nigeria who voted for electronic transmission. Maybe that is their belief or their environment is ready for electronic transmission. And you have senators from the southern part of Nigeria who voted against immediate deployment of electronic transmission but they support that the electronic transmission of results should be allowed after certain conditions are met and the conditions are simple. The National Communications Commission (NCC) had provided the technical information that only NCC could give – that only about 50 per cent of the Nigerian environment, the polling units, in the country could possibly have their results electronically transmitted.
“So what happens to the other 50 per cent. So we believe that all of us in the Senate were aiming at the same target but chose to go through different routes and that is why in my concluded remarks in the Senate after the debate and voting, I said there was no victor, no vanquish because we all meant well.”
“I want to take this opportunity to debunk that insinuation or outright castigation of senators that voted against immediate deployment of electronic transmission that they don’t like electronic transmission. It is not true.
“Even though I didn’t vote. But I believe that what my colleagues did is binding on all of us in the Senate. 28 against 52,” Lawan said.