The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has introduced electronic voting system in the conduct of activities of the House.
Dogara, who last Thursday announced the adoption of the e-voting system, said it was in compliance with the 8th Assembly’s Legislative Agenda. Consequently, forms have been distributed to individual members to collate their data ahead of production of e-voting cards to all the 360 MPs. The implication of the new system is that records of each member’s punctuality and voting patterns can easily be accessed by constituents and members of the public.
This development throws out the “aye” and “nay” system which is prone to manipulation by whoever is presiding.
According to details of the Legislative Agenda as adopted by the 8th Assembly early in its life last year,
The 8th House commits to the use of ICT in the daily conduct of legislative activities of the House. E-parliament and e-voting platforms will be made a regular feature of the House. E-voting will be used regularly during voting to properly reflect voting records of Members and parliamentary accountability. The House shall collaborate with relevant stakeholders to achieve the goal of an e-parliament.
The e-parliament initiative will operate on the platform of modern, up to date digital technology.
However, PUNCH reports that the a senior legislative official stated that the e-parliament platform would create a new challenge for the majority of lawmakers who are not computer-literate. The official said:
These members cannot operate a computer. As a matter of fact, this has been the main factor delaying the introduction of e-parliament by the National Assembly. As we speak, their offices are equipped with computers and Internet facilities, but can they operate the systems? No.
They will face tough times and may likely oppose it or find a reason to ensure that the manual system continues. There is even a computer mounted in front of the Speaker’s seat as he presides over proceedings.
None of the Speakers preceding Dogara ever operated system. Dogara himself has hardly been operating it since he assumed office on June 9, 2015.