**Says not only APC but some PDP Senators too voted for it
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has advanced reasons to justify the position taken by the Senate on the electronic transmission of election results.
The Senate on Thursday, while considering the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill, voted that “The Commission(INEC) may consider electronic transmission of results, provided the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the National Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.”
Lawan explained that the Upper Chamber voted the way it did in defence of about half of the Nigerian voters whose votes may not be counted with immediate deployment or application of electronic transmission of election results.
The Senate President spoke to journalists at the weekend while on a constituency visit to his Yobe North Senatorial District.
Asked to comment on the passage of the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill, Lawan said: “I’m happy that we have been able to pass the amendment even though some people are complaining of what we have passed in the Senate and probably what the House of Representatives has also passed.
“When the majority of Senators voted against immediate application or deployment of electronic transmission of results from the polling units, to the ward, to the local government, states and federal, they didn’t say they do not believe in electronic transmission (of election results).
“All of us in the Senate, 109 of us, believe that at one point, our electoral process must deploy electronic transmission so that it eases and enhances the electoral process and give it more credibility and integrity.
“But you see, when you have not reached that stage where you could deploy the electronic transmission from every part of the country, then you have to be very careful. And no matter what anybody may say, you cannot have about 50 percent of Nigerian voters not participating or not getting their votes counted in elections and say it doesn’t matter, that we have to start the electronic transmission.
“We know the evils of not transmitting results electronically but compare the evils of electronically transmitting just half of the electoral votes from Nigerians and say you have elected a President with 50 percent only.
“And others have voted but their results or their votes could not be electronically transmitted. This is disenfranchising Nigerians and we are not going to support this kind of thing because essentially, we are supposed to be fair to every part of Nigeria and when we voted, every part of Nigeria voted for and against(the amendment).
“What I mean here is that, you have Senators from northern part of Nigeria who voted for electronic transmission. Maybe that is their belief or their environment is ready for electronic transmission. And you have Senators from southern part of Nigeria who voted against immediate deployment of electronic transmission but they support that the electronic transmission of results should be allowed after certain conditions are met and the conditions are simple: The National Communication Commission(NCC) had provided the technical information that only NCC could give – that only about 50 percent of the Nigerian environment, the polling units, in the country could possibly have their results electronically transmitted.
“So what happens to the other 50 percent. So we believe that all of us in the Senate were aiming at the same target but chose to go through different routes and that is why in my concluded remarks in the Senate after the debate and voting, I said there was no Victor, no Vanquish because we all meant well.
“And for those Nigerians who still feel that the electronic transmission should have just been allowed to take effect, I said well, this is how democracy works. Democracy is to allow those minority views to be expressed and democracy provides that the majority views will always prevail.”
The Senate President faulted some media reports that insinuated that only the APC Senators voted against immediate application of the electronic transmission of results.
He said the votes cast on either sides of the subject matter cut across party lines and regional divides.
“In this respect, it was not just APC. I have seen it reported in the media that only APC Senators voted against the immediate deployment of electronic transmission.
“There are PDP Senators who voted against that but it appears that some people want to target at APC Senators. There were PDP Senators who voted against immediate deployment. I’m using the word ‘immediate’ with an emphasis.
“Nobody said don’t use electronic transmission at all. You use it when we reach there and only NCC can give you information. That is the main reason why, in the Senate version, clause 52(3), there is that provision to contact the NCC because INEC will not know until they go to NCC.
“So NCC will be the only institution to give that information because they are competent and it’s within their jurisdiction. And we say the National Assembly should approve of it.
“It is not when they want to do transmission that they will have to go to National Assembly that we want to do transmission. No. That once NCC has told INEC is now ready. INEC should come to the National Assembly with the NCC and say we are now ready.
“There is no way any National Assembly, not even this Ninth National Assembly will deny INEC the use of electronic transmission as part of our electoral process when we are ready for it,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said it was wrong to conclude that Senators who voted for electronic transmission with conditions did not like the results transmitted electronically.
“I want to take this opportunity to debunk that insinuation or outright castigation of Senators that voted against immediate deployment of electronic transmission that they don’t like electronic transmission. It is not true.
“Even though I didn’t vote. But I believe that what my colleagues did is binding on all of us in the Senate. 28 against 52…l believe that what we have done requires that the Senate and the House will each constitute a conference committee. What we call harmonisation for the two sides. When we harmonise, then we will send it to Mr President,” Lawan said.
Nationwide Strike : TUC Faults NLC
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has raised alarm that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) not carry it along before declaring a two-day nationwide industrial action planned for February 27 and 28, 2024.
TUC Secretary General Nuhu Toro, in a letter to the NLC leadership dated February 19, 2024, expressed disappointment that the Joe Ajaero-led labour group did not carry the Festus Osifo-led trade association along before declaring a planned strike despite that the two groups unanimously issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to implement its agreement with the Organised Labour and address the mounting economic crisis of survival in Nigeria.
The TUC said the 14-day ultimatum will expire today (Thursday) and both centres ought to agree on the next step but the NLC on February 16 declared a two-day protest to commence after the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum it jointly issued to the government.
The TUC general secretary said, “It is important that this is the third time that such unilateral declaration is happening under your leadership, we are therefore constrained to formally put this on record as various discussions, communications and interventions have failed. First and second time could pass as human error but a third time would in our opinion translate to an intentional act to undermine us.
“Also note that we are not averse to the issuance of your resolution because our members equally feel the pain, even if it’s a weeklong national strike, but we have a huge problem with the unilateral declaration for a process we both muted and agreed, because our members are equally concerned about the rising cost of living and not particularly the ultimatum, why can’t we see through the ultimatum that expires within the same period before jointly addressing other issues of mutual concern or at worst consolidate them?
“For the avoidance of doubt, we fully understand that NLC is an independent labour force centre that has the right to take independent decision, it is pertinent that when such decisions are taken unilaterally, there is need to go ahead and implement unilaterally.”
The Department of State Services (DSS) has since urged the NLC to shun the planned strike, pursue dialogue and negotiation, instead of engaging in actions that could escalate tensions but the Ajaero-led group has insisted on going ahead with the industrial action.
National Assembly To Consider Fresh Legal Framework For State Police – Bamidele
The National Assembly has disclosed that it will consider a legal framework for the creation of state police and for the gathering of local intelligence about the activities of bandits, kidnappers and terrorists.
The legislature also challenged the local government council authorities, traditional rulers and community leaders to mobilise local vigilantes, hunters and able-bodied youths in defence of their communities and territories.
The Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele made these remarks on behalf of all the recipients of honorary doctorate degrees at the Federal University, Oye Ekiti on Saturday.
Apart from Bamidele who received Honorary Doctorate Degree in Private Law, the university conferred similar honours on Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Olamilekan Adeola and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Navy, Hon. Yusuf Daji, among others.
Speaking on behalf of all the awardees, Bamidele revealed the resolve of the National Assembly to develop a legal framework and support local intelligence gathering to tame the tide of banditry, kidnapping and terrorism.
Specifically, the senate leader pleaded with the critical stakeholders – traditional rulers, community leaders, vigilante groups and able-bodied youths – on the need to provide useful information to the state security services on the activities of criminal elements disrupting our national peace.
According to him, all the state security services require community, group and individual support to decisively confront the menace of banditry, kidnapping and terrorism across the federation.
Bamidele said: “More than ever before, the National Assembly is working tirelessly to provide the necessary legislative framework to strengthen community policing and multi-level security architecture.
“Developing such a legal framework has become imperative at this time in our history. This plan is in the overriding public interest of safeguarding the security of lives and property, the stability of our democracy and the progress of our fatherland.
“The cases of abduction, killings, maiming, population displacement and disruption of socio-economic activities in Benue, Ekiti, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Ondo, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara in recent times have called for an urgent and decisive action by all state actors and other stakeholders.”
He expressed dismay with spate of insecurity in the country, saying Justice would duly be served to those were complicit in the recent abduction of pupils of Apostolic Faith Nursery and Primary School, Emure-Ekiti and their teachers and the gruesome killing of two of two traditional rulers – Onimojo of Imojo Ekiti, Oba Olatunde Olusola and Elesun of Esun-Ekiti, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin in the Oke-Ako area of Ikole Local Government.
He further warned that the day of reckoning “is already at hand for those behind abduction, maiming and killing in Ekiti and other states of the federation. None of them will escape the long arm of the law. In Ekiti, we are peace-loving people. But nobody should take our spirit of good neighborliness and accommodation for granted for any reason.
On the economic crisis, Bamidele reassured Nigerians that relief is already in sight soon considering strategic reforms the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been taking to revive the economy.
Also at the convocation, Adeola vowed to give priority to the country’s educational sector, especially where and whenever he had the opportunity to make such contributions.
Adeola, currently representing Ogun West in the Senate, thanked the leadership of the institution for bestowing the honorary doctorate on accountancy on him.
Uba Sani Blames Poverty, Hopelessness, Others For Insecurity In North-West
The governor of Kaduna State, Uba Sani, says poverty, unemployment, hopelessness and lack of education are the major reasons insecurity is festering in the Northwestern part of the country.
Sani, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, monitored in Abuja said that the issue of banditry and kidnapping in the North-west is different from that of insurgency in the North-East.
“The North-West crisis has to do with banditry and kidnapping, it is economic problem. When you look at the situation critically, you will agree with me that most of those bandits always kidnap innocent people and ask for ransom and whenever they are given money, they will release the victims in many cases and some cases when there is a delay they end up taking the lives of those victims.
“And when you look at the situation, you also look at the problem of poverty, unemployment, hopelessness and lack of education particularly in the Northwestern part of Nigeria, that is the reason why a lot of these incidents happen,” Governor Sani said.
The governor maintained that statistics has proven that greater percentage of people living in the North-West are living below poverty line, adding that a lot of out of school children in the country are also from the North-West zone.
“The last time I checked, and you can confirm from the SDGs recent report, you would agree with me that about 80 to 90% of the people living in the Northwestern part of Nigeria are living below the poverty line and of course if you look at the statistics of out of school children, you can see that a lot of the are from the Northwestern part of Nigeria,”he said.
Governor Sani said that bringing the criminals and pardoning them when they surrender is only one aspect of non-kinetic approach of ending the insecurity which according to him, is not the most important aspect.
The most important approach to ending the menace as he noted, is looking at the condition of the people generally which includes the poverty, unemployment and hopelessness.
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