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Constitution, Electoral Act Amendments Ready Soon– Ekweremadu

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has said the ongoing amendments to the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution will be concluded “in a matter of weeks.”

Ekweremadu said this on Monday when he received a delegation of the British High Commission in Nigeria led by the High Commissioner, Mr. Paul Arkwright, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu.Part of the amendments, he told the British envoy, was to remove the restriction of the Independent National Electoral Commission from adopting electronic voting system in the conduct of elections in the country.The Deputy Senate President stated that concluding the amendments to the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution was top on the priority list of the 8th National Assembly to ensure better governance and smooth elections in 2019.

He said, “The 2019 election is very important to Nigeria. The amendments to the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution all form part of the ongoing electoral reform to continue to improve on the quality of our elections.

“In the previous amendment, a time frame was set for the determination of election petitions. Now, we are working on setting a time frame for pre-election matters. In the previous amendments, we also created a window for direct and indirect primary by political parties. In the current amendment, we want to make more elaborate provisions regarding direct party primaries for political parties that might wish to adopt it to ensure greater fairness, transparency and internal democracy in choosing their standard bearers.

“We are also working to lift the restrictions on the use of electronic voting by the Independent National Electoral Commission. That way, it will be up to the election management body to determine if it is sufficiently prepared to deploy electronic voting or when to adopt electronic voting.”

Ekweremadu also said the rearrangement of the order of elections, as passed by the House of Representatives, if also adopted by the Senate, would help the electorate to judge each candidate on his merit at each level of election.

“The bottom line is that the Conference Committees on both the Electoral Act and Constitution Amendments are meeting separately this week to conclude work on the entire amendments to ensure smoother and more credible electoral processes as well as promote good governance of the country,” he added.

Earlier, Arkwright had said the delegation visited Ekweremadu on political developments in the country and legislative activities of the National Assembly.He said, “The legislative programme, which you have in the Senate and the National Assembly, the changes to the electoral laws are also important to us.”

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