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Senate, Reps reconcile versions of amended Electoral Act

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Senate President Bukola Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday announced a six-man committee of senators to reconcile the versions of the amended Electoral Act by the lower and upper chambers of the National Assembly.

Suleiman Nazif, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was appointed as chairman of the panel. Other members are Shehu Sani, Biodun Olujimi, Hope Uzodinma, Dino Melaye and Peter Nwaoboshi.

The committee is expected to meet with the House of Representatives to harmonise the version of the amended law before forwarding it to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.

The Senate had in 2017 passed an amended version of the 2010 Electoral Act. The lower chamber on Tuesday amended the Electoral Act to change the order in which the 2019 general elections will be held as proposed by INEC.

Meanwhile, former chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega has called for urgent reforms in the electoral processes to boost credibility of the 2019 elections.

He maintained that such reforms would encourage volunteerism, thereby creating avenue for additional groups of professionals such as engineers, doctors and journalists to be part of the electoral processes.

Jega spoke yesterday at a programme organized by the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Muslim Community in collaboration with Muslim Ummah of South Western Nigeria in the university.

In his lecture titled: ‘Volunteers in the Nigerian Electoral Process: Challenges and Prospects’, Jega said if his advice was heeded, the excesses and recklessness of crooked politicians would be curtailed.

He stated that globally, citizens’ engagement in the electoral processes as volunteers range from volunteer work in political party and candidate campaigns to engagement in sensitization, enlightenment, voter, civic and political education, election observation and even more significantly, volunteering for election/polling day activities.

“The Nigerian electoral process used to be one of the worst in the world in terms of its integrity relative to elections in other climes when measured with international standards and expectations of free, fair, peaceful and credible elections; with the 2007 elections widely acclaimed as the worst in Nigeria’s history.

“No electoral commission in the world has enough poll workers in its employment to conduct elections. Volunteers help to enlighten, mobilize and motivate voters and support the conduct of credible elections. Therefore, the case for increased role of volunteers in the Nigerian electoral process cannot be over-emphasised.

“Since Nigeria and Nigerians have chosen liberal democracy as the political and governance system, citizens’ active participation and constructive involvement are prerequisites for its entrenchment, stability and legitimacy,” Jega said.



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