The nominee for the position of Chairperson for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has appealed to the National Assembly to expeditiously pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill before the end of first quarter of 2021.
Mr Yakubu made the call in Abuja on Thursday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC for screening.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday sought Senate’s confirmation of Mr Yakubu as INEC chairperson for a second term.
Mr Yakubu said the passage of the Electoral Act was critical for the success of the 2023 general elections and ultimately the nation’s electoral system.
He said that INEC under his leadership had recommended some areas of amendments in the Electoral Act.
He said that if confirmed, INEC under his watch would consolidate more on ensuring further transparency in the conduct of future elections in the country.
“It is more of what we have done in the past because my belief is that we didn’t have to continue to experiment constantly,” he said.
“So we have to consolidate, democracy operates in the open.
“We have to continue to be open and be transparent in the way we continue to manage public trust.
“I hope in the next few years, we will consolidate in such an extent that Nigerians will be confident that their votes will count and only their votes will determine who eventually wins an election.
“This is my hope and commitment.”
He also said the commission would continue to deepen the deployment of technology in subsequent elections.
“The register of voters is biometric, we are now uploading result online to a dedicated portal and we will continue to explore other ways by which the electoral process can benefit from the deployment of technology,” he said.
Mr Yakubu attributed the high level of voter apathy in the country to poor performance and failed promises by some politicians to the electorate after winning elections.
He also attributed the inability of political parties to effectively mobilise electorate for elections as also responsible for aparty.
He said INEC was saddled with he responsibility of voter education.
Abdullahi Zuru, a nominee for National Commissioner representing North- West, in his remark, said he would bring his experience to bear as a scientist on the on-going deployment of technology in the electoral process if cleared.
Chairperson of the committee, Kabiru Gaya, while fielding questions from newsmen at the end of screening, spoke on the Electoral Act amendment.
“Let me assure Nigerians that we are starting public hearing on the Electoral Act amendment on the Dec. 9.
“The public hearing will be a joint public hearing between Senate and House of Representatives so that we can fast track the amendment of the Electoral Act.
“Because so many Nigerians need the amendment.
“This is because there were so much complaints of irregularities during the last election and we want the Electoral Act to be amended to give us more transparent elections.”
On the controversial allegation that an appointee of President Muhammadu Buhari was among those nominated to the position of Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC), he said: “There are about four Electoral Commissioners expected to be sent to the Senate for confirmation.
“When the list is sent to us, we shall see what to do,” he said.
Speaking further on the REC’s screening , he said the letters to that effect had not been referred to his committee for screening.
“So, we are not aware of those names at our committee level; if you heard that in the news, it has not come to us as a committee.
“When it comes to us as a committee, we will act.”