Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, on Thursday said the commission is “excited” over the speedy and timely passage of critical amendments to the Electoral Act 2010, “two clear years before the next general elections.”
Yakubu made the remarks when he led other National Commissioners of INEC on a thank you visit to the Senate for a job well-done.
“We are here as a Commission out of excitement,” Prof. Yakubu said, adding, “When we were invited last year by the Senate for a stakeholders’ session on INEC reforms, you assured us that this amendment would be completed speedily.
“You have kept that promise. We are happy that this amendment has come well-ahead of the 2019 elections. It is great that this amendment has come two clear years before the election.
“What the Senate has done is remarkable. This is one of the most extensive amendments to the INEC law so far,” he stated.
Yakubu further noted that virtually all the suggestions made to the Senate by the Commission have been taken into account in the amended Act.
“I am happy that these matters have been addressed in the amendments passed by the Senate. This is the most technologically friendly amendment to the Electoral Act ever passed… INEC now has the free hand to conduct elections using technology,” the INEC boss stated.
The INEC boss also stated that the Commission has already developed a clear strategic work plan that would underpin its operations in the next five years.
“This strategic plan comes with a plan of action,” Yakubu said, adding, “Between now and 2019, the public will know what INEC is going to do on a daily, quarterly and yearly basis.”
During the visit, Yakubu presented a copy of the INEC’s 2017 to 2021 Strategic Work Plan to the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
Responding, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, commended the Senate Committee on INEC and all relevant stakeholders who made input that facilitated the early passage of the bill.
“When we made the promise a year ago, not many people believed us. But we’ve done it,” Saraki stated.
He noted that key areas of the INEC law include the technological-support aspects while expressing confidence that the House of Representatives will fast-track the passage of the concurrence Bill for onward transmission to the President for assent.
He commended INEC for drawing up a strategic plan of action while urging the Commission to conduct more free and fair elections in future to encourage greater participation.
Saraki said: “This is a good step — coming out with a plan for the next four years. The responsibility is now on you to lead us to free and fair elections to encourage more participation.
“I am very confident that the House of Representatives will also pass the Act in their Chamber and harmonize before we send it to Mr. President. As you can see some of the issues have been addressed.
“I want assure you of the support of the Senate, based on your strategic plan… the responsibility is now on you to take us to that kind of elections that will again make this country to be the pride, not only for Africa but the rest of the world. I think we can do that and we will continue to support you,” Saraki said.