A former presidential candidate, Professor Kingsley Moghalu, has said that Nigeria does not need the National Assembly to guide or direct some operations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Professor Moghalu’s statement was in response to a recent vote at the Senate which establishes that INEC may consider the electronic transmission of results provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.
Reacting to the development, Moghalu who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, said “we don’t need the National Assembly trying to micromanage INEC or trying to subject INEC to yet another body of government”.
According to the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, the Upper Chamber’s legislation on the matter of electronic transmission “is not a sensible one and does not promote good faith”.
Moghalu further argued that INEC is an independent electoral body and as such, it cannot be subjected to the say-so of another body of government, adding that it is absurd that the Senate seeks to be a referee in a match which it is also a player.
Last week, some lawmakers argued that electronic transmission will disenfranchise many Nigerians in the rural areas where there is no network coverage.
This notion led to a big debate on the floor of the Senate, degenerating into a rowdy session as the congressmen contested the amendment of section 52(3) of the electoral act amendment bill.
It is upon this network argument that Senators on Thursday voted publicly along party lines, with 28 legislators mostly from the PDP voting for the original amendment in the report while 52 others mostly from the APC voted for the revision proposed by Senator Sabi Abdullahi which holds that INEC may consider electronic transmission provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by NCC and approved by the National Assembly.
While the NCC says it cannot guarantee total safety for the electronic transmission of results, noting that results can only be transmitted by a 3G network which only 50 per cent of the country has; INEC has said that it has the capacity to transmit election results electronically from remote areas across the country.
Wading into the argument, Professor Moghalu was of the opinion that “there is nowhere in the world, not even in the United States or advanced countries where electronic coverage is 100 percent all the time”.
“There are places in the US when you are travelling you may not have a network, it doesn’t mean that electronic transmission of results will not be able to work, the INEC itself has assured you that they have different alternative ways as backups to ensure a fair outcome for everybody in the country no matter what part of the country you are in.
“That assurance from the body that the constitution has given the mandate to see to it that our elections are credible should be enough,” Moghalu emphasized.
While warning that the last is yet to be heard on the matter, the lawyer who recently declared interest in the 2023 presidency, urged members of the National Assembly to only make laws within the ambit of the constitution.