National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission will be ready to monitor direct primaries of political parties once the amended Electoral Bill is signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Yakubu, who spoke at an interactive meeting with Online publishers in Lagos on Wednesday, said has no choice than to implement the law as passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the president.
According to him, many Nigerians have been trying to know the position of INEC on the direct primary, especially with the controversy surrounding its acceptance by lawmakers against the position of some state governors.
He said: “Since it emerged that the Direct Primary clause was included in the Electoral Act amendment Bill, many of you have been asking the Commission for its position. But the issue is not about our position but the process. “In the exercise of its constitutional power, the National Assembly has passed the Bill into law awaiting presidential assent. Once the process is concluded, the Bill becomes law and every person and authority in Nigeria, including the Commission, must obey.
“The Commission will give expeditious consideration to the law, including the detailed regulations and guidelines for its implementation where necessary.”
The INEC chairman said that the determination of the Commission to ensure credible election in the country has led to the introduction of many technological innovations, the latest been the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), which was first used in the Isoko South 1 State Constituency bye-election in Delta State in September and the recently conducted Anambra governorship election.
According to Yakubu, BVAS will eliminate election rigging in the country as it is meant to perform the functions of the Smart Card Readers and the Z-pad by capturing fingerprint and facial expression.
He noted that although the Anambra governorship election has been adjudged to be peaceful and credible, there were noticeable problems with the new technology.
He said: “The Commission is not unaware of the issues raised about the performance of the new technology deployed for voter accreditation. The deployment of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS, in the Anambra Governorship election was the second pilot test. It was intended to achieve two objectives. First is voter accreditation to replace Smart Card Reader. The second is the uploading of polling unit results on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal to replace the z-pad.
“The BVAS performed optimally in uploading results on the IReV but there were usual challenges associated with the pilot of new technology in a major election. From our assessment so far, much of the glitches encountered on Election Day in Anambra State had little to do with the machines but more with the operators of the system.
“The extraordinarily difficult circumstances under which the election was held meant that some of the better-trained ad hoc staff withdrew at the 11th hour. Similarly, some critical service providers such as vehicle owners also withdrew thereby severely affecting our plans for rapid response by our technicians- the Registration Area Technical (RATECH) staff.
Suffice it to say that in spite of the glitches, BVAS has justified our determination to deepen the deployment of technology in the electoral process.
“Given the credible conclusion of the election, it has strengthened our belief that even the minimal introduction of technology in voter accreditation is better than the best manual process.”
He promised much improvement in the next major election in the country, which is the end-of-tenure Area Council election in the Federal Capital Territory coming up on 12th February, 2022.
Yakubu noted that since the 2019 general election, there has been no respite for the Commission as it has conducted 36 elections.
“There is no election season any longer in Nigeria. The Commission has to think literally on its feet as it reflects, strategises and innovates and pilots the new innovations. For instance, since the 2019 general election, the commission has conducted 36 elections made up of five governorship constituencies (Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Kogi and Ondo), six senatorial districts, seven House of Representatives seats and 18 state assembly constituencies. Yet there are more elections to be conducted in the next eight months,” he said.