National Assembly should pass Electoral Act to enable Nigerian diasporas to participate in 2023 elections, Yakubu says


RE-NOMINATED Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has urged the National Assembly to prioritise the passage of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill.

He said it would be ideal for the new Electoral Act to be ready in the first quarter of next year.

Yakubu made the call in Abuja during his screening for reappointment as chairman of the commission by the Kabiru Gaya-led Senate Committee on INEC.

He said the amendments being sought to the Electoral Law were crucial to the conduct of 2023 general elections.

The erstwhile INEC chairman said elections cannot be conducted in an atmosphere of uncertainty, adding that work on the electoral framework has to be finalised before the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

“I want to appeal to the Senate to please expedite work on the Electoral Act so that we can conduct elections in an atmosphere of certainty.

“I hope you will give us the Electoral Act by the end of first quarter of 2021,” he said.

Yakubu, who was responding to questions from members of the committee, explained why the country has continued to experience low voter turnout during elections.

He said the country had not achieved 50 per cent voter turnout during elections.

He said the commission would continue to strengthen voter education to change the narrative.

Yakubu said there was also the need for political parties to increase voter mobilisation.

Responding to Senator Opeyemi Bamidele’s request for Diaspora Voting, Prof. Yakubu said: “We can’t run faster than what the law provides. We have identified the areas of amendment to enable Nigerians vote outside the country.

“So, we need to amend the Electoral Act. On our own, we have contacted the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Ministry of Defence and the Nigerian Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).

“But we must amend the Electoral Act to put smiles on the faces of Nigerians outside the country.”

Committee Chairman Gaya told reporters after the screening that the National Assembly would present a new Electoral Act to Nigerians before the end of March 2021.

On N2 billion bribery allegation against the chairmanship nominee, Gaya said the Senate leadership had taken a legal action against the media organisation that wrote the story.

The senator also said the names of four nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), including a media aide to the President, Mrs. Lauretta Onochie, had not been forwarded to his committee.

He said: “Those other REC nominees from the various states, as soon as we receive their names, we will work on them.”

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