2019: Amendments To Electoral Act Will Guarantee Freer Elections – Mike Igini - WELCOME TO GEEZYWAP

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Sunday, 5 November 2017

2019: Amendments To Electoral Act Will Guarantee Freer Elections – Mike Igini

By Olalekan Bilesanmi
In this interview, the Resident Electoral
Commissioner, REC, for Akwa Ibom
State, Mike Igini, explains the latest
attempts by the Independent National
Electoral Commission, INEC, to midwife
a freer and better electoral process in
the run-up to the 2019 general
elections. He speaks about some of the
proposed amendments to the Electoral
Act and the positive impact they would
have on the process. The burning issue
of restructuring is also discussed, with
Igini, giving insight into why it is
imperative that the issue is treated with
utmost urgency. Excerpts:
You were reported to have said that the
proposed amendments to the Electoral
Act would impact on the 2019 and future
electoral outcomes. Could you give
insight to these provisions?
I have no doubt that some of these
proposed new amendments would
impact profoundly on the electoral
outcomes if fully implemented by us.
For example, in the proposed new
amendments, there are now sections
that allow all Political Party Agents to
verify all documents to be used for an
election in writing and if necessary by
video recording, the amendment further
invalidates any election conducted
without following this provision and
further prescribes imprisonment of one
year or a million naira (N1,000,000.00)
fine for any electoral official who fails to
comply with it. This amendment like
several others to my mind shows that
the legislators have taken into account
some of the observed challenges of 2015
elections when there were reports of
absence of original copies of form EC8A
at polling units and now the law is
aimed at ensuring accountability of such
critical electoral documents thus making
future elections more transparent but as
we have always known, the devil is in
the implementation and enforcement.
The Card Reader that people like you
advocated for in the 2015 election was
not given legal recognition by the
courts. What is the legal status of the
card reader now as 2019 gets closer?
Again that is another important and
commendable lesson learned with
improvement by the legislators, they
have not only gone ahead to legitimize
the card reader, but have empowered
INEC as the Election mangers to also be
able to freely adapt to newer
technologies by indicating that a
presiding officer may use “a Smart Card
Reader or any other technological
device that may be prescribed by the
Commission from time to time for the
accreditation of voters, to verify, confirm
or authenticate” . This is brilliant and
elegant policy drafting. It conforms to
the reality of the hierarchy of policies,
Political policy gives the vision, namely
acceptable elections, Executive policy
prescribes the enabling process and
rules-the Electoral Act, they both should
leave technical details such as
technology which can change with
speed beyond the decision-making
adaptability of legislatures or other such
minutiae of operational details to
departmental policies which is what an
INEC board is meant to do through its
ICT and operation departments that
should be accorded legal validity by
virtue of sections 73, 153 of the Act and
160 of the Constitution but
unfortunately the courts failed to do so
with respect to matters of the 2015
elections. Now the Card Readers’ usage
has been fully secured in the proposed
Act.
Apart from accreditation process and
polling units result that appears to be
secured, there have been persistent
allegation of alteration of results either
on the way to or at collation centers.
Does the proposed amendment address
this very important aspect?
Legitimacy is key to exercise of power
because the basis of every system of
authority and correspondingly of every
kind of willingness to obey by the
governed is based on the belief that
those exercising authority derive it from
the consent of the people and it is on
that basis that they are lent prestige.

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