AGAINST all expectations, the House of Representative Wednesday adopted the manual voting system in the final clause-by-clause amendment of some sections of the 1999 Constitution, which started work effectively in September 2011.
The House had suspended voting on the constitution for the second time in a week in favour of electronic voting system.
But the process was not without hitches yesterday as the officials of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) led by its Director General, Ahmed Rufai contracted to facilitate the exercise could not fix the voting devices installed in the chamber.
After several failed attempts to configure the devices provided by the experts to conduct the exercise electronically, the House resorted to manual voting by the 327 members present, a process that was cumbersome, compelling the chamber to sit for several hours.
Visitors including members of the Civil Society groups who thronged the gallery in the morning to observe the process sat and waited patiently throughout the duration of the session presided over by the Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
But they later left in disappointment when as at 5:30 p.m., the results of the voting exercise were still being collated by Parliamentary officials under the supervision of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mohammed Omolori.
The lawmakers had on Tuesday emerged from a closed session that lasted for almost three hours to adjourn voting for yesterday to allow members obtain and use the iPad devices supplied them for the purpose of voting electronically.
Speaker of the House, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto-PDP), after the resumed session, had appealed to Nigerians “to please bear with the House for the long closed session”.
He said the prolonged close session, and the House’ decision to defer voting on the 1999 Constitution to Wednesday (yesterday) was because “members decided to adopt the electronic system in the voting so as to make it faster and more effective”.
The supplier and installer of the electronic system that is connected to each iPad device is Nigeria Communications Satellite, NigComSat.
The Director General of NigcomSat, Ahmed Rufai, who had lectured the lawmakers on the use of the device, stressed after the closed session, “The system has been tested and would be ready for use yesterday.”
According to him, “360 tablets were shipped from Lagos and the application has been tested and it will be possible for members to vote from their iPads and that all what members need to do is to charge their devices overnight.”
Members who spoke with newsmen had expressed optimism that lawmakers “would vote according to their conscience” and according to the wishes of the people”.