By Tunde Adetunji, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Thursday presented its revolutionary four years strategic plan to the Senate with an indication that e-voting may be possible in 2019.
Leading a delegation of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) commissioners to Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said: “ We are excited that the Senate has kept to that promise, we are happy that this has come well ahead of the 2019 elections. One of the problems we have had as a nation is that amendments to the electoral act, comes on the eve of elections. For instance, the last amendment was assented to two days to the last general elections. So the document only came to light after the elections. But here we are, two clear years to the elections, we have the bill passed by the Senate.
“What the Senate has done is all the more remarkable because this is one of the most extensive amendments to the Act. We worked with the Senate Committee on INEC and we produced our own submission, and I am happy to say that virtually all the submissions were taken care of, including some of the developments in the bill that challenged our electoral jurisprudence; Kogi was one. We had a situation that was not guided by the constitution, not by the Electoral Act, and not even by our guidelines. This matter has been addressed in the amendment”.
On the plan to fully embrace e-voting in 2019, Yakubu added: “This is the most technologically friendly amendment to the Electoral Act, in the history of this country. All the encumbrances to the deployment of the technology in elections have now been addressed, and so INEC has the free hand to fully employ appropriate technology in the conduct of our elections. This is all the more remarkable because the deployment of technology helped the 2015 general elections, and i want to assure you that we are going to deepen the use of technology in the conduct of elections.
“Next, we are working on the basis of a very clear plan. What helped the 2015 general elections was the existence of a very clear strategic plan that covered the last electoral cycle. That strategic plan expired last year, and last year we began work on the new strategic plan to cover the next electoral cycle. It is a five year plan covering the period 2017-2021.
“We have gone through all the processes including the last stakeholders’ validation of the document which happened on Tuesday this week. We have a strategic plan that will take us through the 2019 general elections and beyond. The plan comes with a programme of action, so that between now and 2019 and beyond, you will know exactly what INEC is going to do, on a monthly basis, daily basis and quarterly basis.”
Saraki, in his response, admonished INEC to play by the enabling law available to it.
“I believe that we have got a law passed by the Senate that lays a very good foundation; it is one that we can be proud of; it is one that encourages best practices in our electoral processes and elections.
“As you rightly said, the application of technology is something that has to happen. It gives you power on how to apply technology appropriately. Particularly, one of the key areas of that law that we are really happy about is the collation of results. We have passed the law, to make it happen and to implement it lies on you,” he stated.