The National Assembly (NASS), last week, was nothing short of a theatre of commotion during the consideration of the Electoral Act (Repeal/Re-enactment) Bill, 2021.
In a bid to protect varied interests on the subject of transmitting electoral results electronically, the Federal lawmakers engaged themselves in a heated shouting match which almost led to exchange of blows.
This, and two other developments, were tops of the stories that emanated from the NASS, past week.
The noise this time
On July 15, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, amidst riotous debates, ordered a close-door session for Senators to vote for or against the electronic transmission of election results.
They resolved that the “Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) must certify that national coverage is adequate and secure while the National Assembly must approve before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), can transmit election results.”
The next day, July 16, the House of Representatives, however, approved that “the Commission may transmit results of election through electronic means where and when practicable.”
What played out at the hallowed chambers, though not uncommon, shows how narrow, selfish interests have come to define the conduct and contributions of Nigerian lawmakers to national debate.
Needless to say that the near joint decision to tarry until the country is ‘fully’ ready for e-transmission of results depicts how a majority of the political class are unwilling to adapt to change and deepen transparency in Nigeria’s electoral processes.
In fact, the question raised by many critics is shouldn’t the observed gaps have been sufficient catalyst to strengthen internet coverage in the disadvantaged areas with a view to enhancing the integrity of elections?
Besides, asking INEC to first request the approval of the NCC before transmitting election result electronically calls to question the subtle strategy of the lawmakers to stifle the independence of the Commission.
More worrisome is the bad omen this portends for the forthcoming 2023 elections, especially as speculations are rife that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is deliberately plotting to make the processes vulnerable in order to rig the polls.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“It is inconvertible that our great party (PDP) worked hard to achieve a stable and more united country, with unprecedented economic growth, massive infrastructural development and citizen empowerment in our 16 years in power at the centre. Sadly, these lofty gains have been wrecked within a space of six years by the overtly inept, corrupt, divisive and insensitive APC administration. We have never had it this bad in the history of our nation and Nigerians are crying out in pain. Today, due to the misrule of the APC, terrorism, mass killings, kidnapping, banditry, unemployment, hunger and starvation and utter hopelessness have encircled our nation?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
As one of the 19 recommendations made by the Special Committee on National Security, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had moved the motion for its consideration saying, “Give immediate consideration to the use of private defence contractors for targeted security operations to combat insurgency and terrorism especially.”
Given the diminishing capacity of the Nigerian military to contend with the ever growing security challenges, the disposition of the House is understandable.
While their recommendation has been subjected to opposing views, the truth remains that Nigeria needs all the help she can get to solve her security issues.
Scary figures on the security situation seem to support this desperate move. According to Global Rights Nigeria, 1,603 Nigerians were killed in the first quarter of 2021. Also, a report by SBM Intelligence detail that 2,371 were abducted within the first six months of the year.
Even as calls for probe of military spendings have been sustained, the country’s leadership must carefully weigh its options and be ready to swallow its ego if only to find lasting solutions to the myriad of security challenges bedeviling the nation.
The rejection followed the adoption of a motion at the plenary sponsored by Hon. Thomas Ereyitomi.
The Federal Government’s plan speaks to the heightened security situation in the country and the helplessness experienced by fire fighters in discharging their primary responsibilities.
With the House position made clear, it becomes expedient that members, in the performance of their oversight functions, must now seek other enduring alternatives to ensure that the FFS personnel are provided with adequate funding and protected to excel at work.
Answer: Ndudi Elumelu
Elumelu, made the statement on April 29, 2021, while speaking at the emergency National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Abuja. Elumelu is the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives. He represents Aniocha North/Aniocha South/Oshimili North/Oshimili South at the House.
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