President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated his commitment to ensure Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct credible, free and fair polls in 2019 through the use of permanent voter card and Card readers in line with provision of Electoral Act.
The Special Adviser to President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina in a statement made available to newsmen on Wednesday said the allegations that the President declined assent to the Bill because of objections to the use of card readers are wild and baseless.
According to him: “The allegations that the President declined assent to the Bill because of objections to the use of card readers are wild and baseless. President Buhari did not and has never raised any objections to the use of Card Readers for elections in Nigeria.
“On the contrary he has always been a passionate advocate for the use of PVCs and Card Readers in elections in Nigeria, mindful of the role that Card Readers and PVCs played in the election that brought him into office. And he has repeatedly made this clear, and praised these technologies.”
The statement read in part:
“Our attention has been drawn to incorrect and misleading reporting in several newspapers regarding the status of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
“The Presidency would like to set out the true status of the Bill. The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was sent by the National Assembly to the Presidency at the end of June 2018, for assent. Following extensive consideration, the Presidency engaged with the National Assembly to raise concerns regarding errors and inconsistencies found in the submitted version. Following this, the National Assembly, on July 24, 2018, met to review and correct the Bill.
“The Bill was given, on July 24, 2018, a “clause by clause consideration” by the Senate. The Votes and Proceedings from the Senate on July 24, 2018, attest to this. The Senate resolved to rescind its decision on a number of clauses included in the version they had earlier sent for consideration by the President, and to reconsider these clauses.
“According to the Senate Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday July 24, 2018: “The Senate: … notes that in the course of final cleaning of the Bill as passed, some provisions were found to negate the essence of the amendment; [and] Resolves to: Rescind its decision on Clauses 3,5,8,11(2), 13(b), 14 (4), 15(3), 18,21,23,24,28,32 and 38 of the Bill as passed, and recommit same to Committee of the whole for reconsideration and passage.”
“The re-considered Bill was passed by the Senate on July 24, 2018 the same day that plenary was adjourned to September 25, 2018. The revised Version of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, with corrections by the National Assembly, and dated the 2nd of August, 2018, was received by the Presidency on the 3rd of August, 2018. The President has 30 days from the date of receipt, to assent to or decline the Bill. The Bill is therefore still under consideration by the Presidency.”
Adesina said Buhari while speaking at the State House on May 28, 2018, while hosting the Judiciary to the customary breaking of the Ramadan Fast described introduction of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and Card Readers as fantastic.
President Buhari exact words: “I tried [running for President] three times, and ended up in court three times. The fourth time, I eventually made it, thanks to God and thanks to technology. These Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and Card Readers, they’re fantastic. Those who went to their polling booths in their constituencies, and put in their votes, their votes counted.
“Before, votes were disregarded, [results] were just written, and there was nothing you could do before the [Judiciary] to prove your case. But now with technology, it has been made easy. That is why I keep on appealing to the Governors, to please do voter education. Tell the people that their Voters Card is their national card, so to speak. Let them vote anybody they want across ethnicity and religion. I’m begging the Governors to please continue to do voter education, so that people will take their Permanent Voters Cards seriously, and make sure they don’t lose them.”
The President Spokesman noted that none of these clauses reviewed and revised by the National Assembly in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 relates to the issue of electronic voting or to the use of Card Readers.
The President also did not raise any objections whatsoever to the use of Card Readers, contrary to the stories being maliciously peddled by sections of the media and on the Internet.