•Saraki tasks commission on credible polls
From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, has presented the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki.
Mahmood, who visited Saraki in company with some national commissioners and the secretary of the commission, said the plan would guide the electoral body on what needs to be done, even beyond 2019.
He told Saraki and other senators that INEC was working on a clear plan to ensure the success of the 2019 general elections.
Mahmood posited that what facilitated the success of the 2015 general elections was the existence of a clear strategic plan that covered the last election cycle, noting that the plan expired last year.
Mahmood stated that the commission had gone through all the processes of the strategic plan, including stakeholder validation of the document.
“The strategic plan comes with a programme of action so that, between now and 2019 and beyond, we know exactly what INEC is going to do on daily, monthly and quarterly basis, and we will be tracking (progress).
“Gone are the days when elections were done on a prefixed basis. There have to be very clear parameters,” he said.
The INEC chair commended the Senate for the expeditious passage of the Electoral Act.
According to him, one of the problems Nigeria has had was that amendments to the Electoral Act have hitherto come on the eve of elections, stating that the recent amendment by the Senate was remarkable because it was one of the most extensive amendments to the Act so far.
“We worked with the Senate Committee on INEC, and we produced our own submission. I’m happy to say that virtually all the submissions we made have been taken care of,” he said.
Mahmoud added that the amendment was one of the most technologically-friendly amendments of the Electoral Act in the history of the country.
In his remarks, Saraki said the amendment would improve Nigeria’s electoral process, pointing out that it had laid a good foundation that all were proud of.
He, therefore, urged the commission to take advantage of the amendment to give the country credible elections in future, while pledging the full support of the Senate in helping INEC achieve its strategic plan.
“The responsibility is now on you to take us to that level of election that will, again, be a pride of not only Africa but the world. I think we can do that with the new law that we have in place,” Saraki said.
Saraki further expressed optimism that the use of technology in elections would help the commission meet up with international best practices.