BY ERNEST PIUS, Abuja
The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), has said that Nigeria democracy is in danger as National Assembly is set to pass the Electoral Act amendment bill with the smuggled in clause that excludes electronic transmission of results despite public outcry to remove it and safeguard the nation’s frail democracy.
IPAC Noted that plots are afoot to also remove Electronic Voting from the bill following widespread submission that electronic transmission of result always goes hand-in-hand with Electronic Voting where ever it is used.
This was contained in a statement issued by National Publicity Secretary of IPAC, Ambassador Agbo Major, on Monday in Abuja.
He said: “It is unfortunate that the 9th National Assembly has decided to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians and put our hard earned democracy on trial. It is unacceptable and must be resisted by all lovers of democracy in Nigeria.
“The obnoxious, draconian and repulsive clause smuggled in against the peoples’ will, makes a mockery of our fragile democracy and questions the patriotism of our Federal legislators who intend to sell their conscience and honour for a mess of political porridge that will destabilize the nation and enthrone fascism and one party rule.
“IPAC as the umbrella body of the 18 registered political parties by INEC and a critical stakeholder submitted its memoranda on Electoral Act and Constitution amendments, and demanded for electronic voting system and transmission of results in the quest for credible elections in Nigeria including addressing the vexatious cross carpeting issue that has marred our democracy. This was the consensus of all stakeholders at various meetings and public hearings.
“However, the National Assembly that ought to be the voice, conscience and mirror of the citizenry cannot jettison the clear will of the people on the altar of personal aggrandizements. It amounts to legislative recklessness to jeopardize our hard earned democracy instead of deepening, strengthening and advancing it to meet international standards. The right of the people to elect, reelect or reject candidates sponsored by their political parties is the beauty of constitutional governance as power resides in the people.
“More so, the same National Assembly demonstrated highhandedness by suffocating the political space when it threw caution to the winds by its previous amendments to the Electoral Act and the Constitution which empowered INEC to deregister political parties for failure to win a legislative seat among others. It will be an uphill task for political parties not in government to win elections if the process is grossly flawed through this ill-conceived clause that prohibits electronic transmission of election results in particular and rejection of electronic voting system in general.
“The National Assembly must rise to the occasion, defend the nation’s frail democracy and expunge the obnoxious Section 50(2) of the proposed electoral bill which states, “Voting at election under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedures determined by the Commission, which may include electronic voting PROVIDED that the Commission shall not transmit results of the elections by electronic means.”
He noted that the purpose of the electronic voting and transmission of results is to guarantee the sanctity of the ballot, adding “the offensive provision must be expunged forthwith and the Bill passed immediately to avoid anarchy in the polity”.