Senate Bows To Pressure, Amend Electoral Bill To Suit Prez Buhari

The Senate, on Wednesday, concurred to observations raised by President Muhammadu Buhari on why he refused to assent to the 2010 Electoral Act ( Amendment ) Bill 2021, by rescinding mandatory Direct Primaries imposed on political parties for the nomination of candidates.

 

The upper legislative chamber had in collaboration with the House of Representatives in November last year as contained in clause 87(2), made Direct Primaries the only option for Political parties in electing candidates for general elections.

However, President Buhari in refusing assent to the bill said the provision was an undemocratic and serious infraction on the Constitution of the various political parties which has different options of Direct, Indirect and Consensus arrangements for such elections.

According to the President, signing the bill into law would have serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences on the country, particularly in view of Nigeria’s peculiarities.

He added that it would also impact negatively the rights of citizens to participate in government as constitutionally ensured.

In concurring with President Buhari on observations raised, the Senate as listed on its order paper for Wednesday, added indirect and consensus options to the mandatary direct provision earlier approved.

Specifically, the upper legislative chamber in Clause 84(2) of the report approved direct, indirect primaries or consensus as the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions.

It also approved the recommended Clause 84(3) that “a political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party.”

Clause 84(4) further provides that “a political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall adopt the procedure outlined below; (a) In the case of nominations to the position of Presidential candidate, a political party shall, (i) hold special conventions in each of the 36 states of the federation and FCT, where delegates shall vote for each of the aspirants at designated centres in each State Capital on specified dates.”

The clause provides that a National Convention shall be held for the ratification of the candidate with the highest number of votes.

The amendment followed a motion for its re-commital to the Committee of the Whole.

The motion was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North).

The Senate Leader, in his presentation, recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had signified withholding his assent on the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 which was passed by the National Assembly and forwarded to the President on Thursday, 18th November 2021.

Senator Abdullahi noted that the rationale for withholding assent bordered on his observation in Clause 84.

He, however, explained that the motion for re-commital of the bill to the Committee, on the Whole, was against the backdrop of the “need to address the observation by Mr President C-in-C and make necessary amendment in accordance with Order 87(c) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended); and relying on order 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 ( as amended).”

Accordingly, the chamber rescinded its decision on the affected Clause of the Bill as passed and recommit same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and passage.

Meanwhile contrary to the earlier hard posture by some lawmakers, when the motion was put into vote after consideration it was unanimously adopted by all senators.

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