The removal of the clause against electronic voting and transmission of election results last week by the ninth Assembly, under the leadership of the distinguished Senator Ahmed Lawan and his counterpart at the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has been lauded as one of the biggest steps ever taken by this administration, to strengthen the Nigerian democracy. The Senate, in its wisdom, repealed the Electoral Act no 52 and the corresponding sub- sections that appear as inhibition to the democratic process, and now allows the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to work hand in hand with the Independent National Electoral Commission (lNEC), to transmit electoral results electronically, where necessary.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) government, under president Muhammadu Buhari, many times was accused by the opposition parties, for working alone for the interest and progress of his party, the APC, especially when his body language suggested that he had forgotten his campaign promises of electoral reforms, made to Nigerians in 2015. However, the u-turn by the Senate on this issue also confirms the position of INEC, which earlier stated, when the matter was fiercely debated among various interest groups that it has capacity and sufficient protection of the law, to conduct elections and transmit same electronically.
Whatever the motive was in the past, to deny Nigerians the opportunity of having electoral results transmitted right from the polling booths, now that the coast is clear, the onus lies on the electoral umpire, the INEC to consolidate on the achievements recorded in Ondo and Edo States elections, which Nigerians applauded, and therefore, ensure that Anambra State elections, slated for 6th November, 2021, surpasses the feat already recorded in the previous elections. Earlier, the Civil Society Groups across the country descended heavily on the law makers when it appeared the clause inhibiting electronic voting was not going to be removed.
But now, the Senate has bowed to pressure, the INEC should have no excuse to give to Nigerians, why future elections should not be free, fair and results announced, without undue delays that hitherto encourage fraud and manipulations by desperate politicians, in the past. No doubt, the actions of the Senate this time, certainly has assuaged many Nigerians, who may have lost hope in the electoral process, including various pressure groups that are at the vanguard of promoting democratic principles, akin to what is practiced in western societies. Again, with this singular move, and many others expected from the law makers to strengthen the Nigerian democracy, expectations are that, the polity will not be unduly heated, given the apprehension that has enveloped everywhere already.
It is commendable that the law makers this time listened to the voices of Nigerians, by going one step ahead to address one of the major fundamental issues of our electoral process that seek to hold the society down and ridicule us before the comity of nations. While we expect that more pragmatic steps would be taken to address other serious matters bordering on electoral reforms, which are many, that also constitute a clog in the wheel of democratic process of the country, those in the habit of heating the polity should desist from doing so, especially now that the country is grappling with so much challenges that seek to shake its foundation. While we believe that the removal of the clause against electronic voting would serve the interest of all Nigerians, we also call on the law makers to do more, and ensure that, whatever clause(s) in the Electoral Act that would derail or impede the electoral process in Nigeria is nipped in the bud, before the 2023 general elections.