The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday said it will fully comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill once it is signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
There has been a sharp disagreement between members of the National Assembly and state governors over the direct primaries clause in the Bill which mandated all political parties to conduct direct primaries in selecting their candidates.
Many of the governors, across the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are against direct primaries and have urged the president not to sign the bill into law.
INEC had earlier explained that the monitoring of the direct primaries of the 18 registered political parties in the country has financial and security implications, stating that it will require about 17,618 officials to supervise only the primaries of the APC and the PDP.
But speaking at an interactive meeting with online publishers in Lagos, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman, said the commission and everyone in the country are bound by the provisions in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill once it is signed into law.
“Since it emerged that the direct primary clause was included in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, many of you have been asking the commission for its position. But the issue is not about our position, but the process. In the exercise of its constitutional power, the National Assembly has passed the Bill into law awaiting presidential assent.
“Once the process is concluded, the Bill becomes law and every person and authority in Nigeria, including the commission, must obey. The commission will give expeditious consideration to the law, including the detailed regulations and guidelines for its implementation where necessary”.
While appreciating the media for its continuous support for the work of the commission over the years, Yakubu identified the menace of fake news as one major area the commission requires assistance.
According to him, purveyors of fake news with their sympathisers whose aim is to undermine the country’s electoral system take advantage of the free social media space and sometimes the traditional media to advance their interests and spread falsehood.
He said, “One major area where we need your help is in containing fake news. The emergence of the internet brought with it tremendous opportunities for all sectors, including the media and it has broadened the scope of human abilities to share information and knowledge within seconds.
“The dynamism of social media, enabled by the power of the internet, has made it possible for media organisations to upload narratives which in turn are transmitted to digital platforms such as cell phones, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so on.
“This can take various forms. They can, for instance, cook up wild allegations against the commission and or its officials to frustrate a good policy which they perceive as inimical to their selfish interest.
“When such allegations get to you, please thoroughly investigate. After all, one of the tenets of your noble profession is ‘fairness’ and ‘objectivity’. I implore you to always balance your stories.