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Monday, 3 August 2015

INEC to initiate bill on electronic, diaspora voting





From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has revealed that it was finalizing arrangements to send a bill to the National Assembly for adoption of electronic voting system  and to enable Nigerians in diaspora cast votes during elections.
A deputy director of the commission and head of media, Nick Dazang, who made the disclosure after receiving award from the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), yesterday, pointed out that as part of the commission’s determination not to disenfranchise Nigerians in any part of the world, the commission was working assiduously to send several other reforms to the National Assembly before the next general elections.
He said: “The introduction of reforms, such as permanent voter card and the smart card reader, proved to be the game changers in the 2015 general elections; in the sense that they added value and transparency to the process.
“The commission is determined to further improve its processes in terms of adding transparency. So, we are looking towards a commission that will for example, ensure other reforms such as the introduction of the use of electronic voting.
“For now, it is prohibited by law; but what the commission is likely to look at, is to canvass at the National Assembly to remove that prohibition; so, that the commission can introduce it in the subsequent elections.
“Another area, which President Muhammadu Buhari equally indicated interest recently, is the area of diaspora voting. We could not do it in the last election despite the clamour and clarion call for it, because it was equally prohibited by law.
“I also foresee a situation again, where the commission will canvass for diaspora voting to be allowed, especially when you take into consideration that there are millions of Nigerians in diaspora eager to exercise their franchise.
“In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that we have as much as seven million in Sudan alone and over three million in the United Kingdom. There are very huge Nigerian population in most of these African countries; yet,they don’t get to vote. I foresee a situation where the commission will also canvass for diaspora voting.
“There are other sections in the Electoral Act that are in conflict, like sections 31, 87,  whereas one of the sections says INEC in concert with other functions, should oversee the activities of the political parties and ensure that they conform with the international democracy.”
Another section says the commission has no option than to accept any candidate forwarded to it by the political parties.
“What it means, is that a political party can even forward the name of a non-Nigerian to contest an election and the commission will have no option than to accept such candidate. I foresee reforms taking place in these areas.”

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