Nigeria’s main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has vowed not allow the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) led National Assembly to “murder democracy” in Nigeria, vowing to head to court to challenge the decision of the senate to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from transmitting election results directly from polling units.
On Thursday, lawmakers spent more than three hours considering over 100 clauses of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, and the majority of the senators, all APC senators, succeeded in empowering the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to determine the electronic transmission of electoral results.
The legislation is seeking to repeal and re-enact the 2010 electoral act, which has been under consideration for years.
During the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, Sabi Abdullahi, deputy senate whip, proposed that the NCC must certify that national coverage is adequate and secure, while the national assembly must approve before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can transmit election results electronically.
But Albert Bassey, senator representing Akwa Ibom north-east, kicked against the motion and said the initial proposal made by the committee should be retained.
“The commission may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable,” section 50 (3) of the report reads.
This led to a rowdy session which lasted about 20 minutes, after which the senate eventually retained Abdullahi’s amendment after a 52-28 vote, with all APC senators voting ‘No’ and all PDP senators voting ‘Yes.’
Reacting to the decision of the senators at press conference on Friday, national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus on Friday, the said the amendment passed by the lawmakers cannot stand, as according to him, it is a big scam.
Secondus said the party will take all necessary legal steps to ensure that the “APC scam” is not allowed to stand in any way.
“We have called you this afternoon to join our voices and anger with that of Nigerians and all lovers of democracy in condemning what happened in the National Assembly yesterday Thursday and today Friday,” Secondus said.
“How a representative of the people enjoying their mandate blatantly turned their back on them and toed the line of a political party interest that is clearly against the people.
“By the choice of the All Progressives Congress, APC to put party interest before National interest, they have vividly murdered democracy by the actions of their members in the two chambers of the National Assembly yesterday and today. For us in PDP, today is a Black Friday for democracy.
“It’s an established fact in all democracies world wide that a free, fair and credible election is the tripod of any democracy. The action of APC in swaying their members against Electronic transmission of Election Results clearly undermines and shows in unmistaken terms that APC is not ready to face the Nigerian electorates.
“It also shows that the dilly-dallying of APC all the while in amending the Electoral Act is deliberate as they never wanted from inception to do anything that will deepen democracy in our country.
“This is notwithstanding that the party is a huge beneficiary of Electoral Reform carried out by the PDP administration.
“We therefore, unequivocally condemn and reject the amendment of Electoral Act as passed by the National Assembly and urge President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfil his anti-corruption crusade and see this as corruption and the big scam.
“The PDP will take all necessary legal steps to ensure that this APC scam is not allowed to stand in any way.
“We therefore call on all lovers of democracy who see free, fair and transparent election as vital, to stand up against this fraud.
“Before I end these remarks gentlemen of the Press, may I commend members of the PDP in the two chambers for standing up for democracy when it mattered. History will be favourable to them.
“I would like to also urge the Press as vanguard in the democratic struggle to take up their arms against this anti democratic action.”