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Electoral Bill: Reps to harmonise amendment with Senate

The House of Representatives will today (Tuesday) amend the 2021 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill in line with the Senate’s amendment of direct, indirect and consensus options for the selection of candidates for elective offices.

A credible source in the Green Chamber, said the lawmakers had agreed that the consensus option should be included in the final draft.

There had been disparity between the two chambers on the amendment after the earlier version which only allowed for direct primary was rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.

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The president had declined assent to the bill on the grounds of insecurity and cost of conducting direct primary, which, he said, violates the spirit of democracy.

Following the rejection by the president, the Senate re-amended the bill and altered the controversial clause 84, thereby accommodating the direct, indirect and consensus mode of electing candidates by political parties.

The upper legislative arm also approved the recommend­ed clause 84(3) that “a political party that adopts the direct pri­mary 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 primary 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 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.

On its part, the House of Representatives adopted the direct and indirect options but expunged the consensus option.

The provision by the green chamber reads: “The procedure for nomination of candidates by political parties for various elec­tive positions shall be by direct or indirect primaries.”

Speaking, on Monday, Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said his party will still revisit the Electoral Act Bill if it returns to power in 2023.

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George, who said he was happy with the direct primary clause which would have given power to party members to elect their representatives, also admonished President Buhari to sign the bill into law so that he can put his name in gold.

He said, “I am not very happy with the issue of the Electoral Act Bill. I was overtly happy when direct primary was slammed into that Bill because that would have negated all the shady deals associated with who emerges governor, senators, president and so on. Let the will of the people prevail.

“We have done it before in this country through Option A4. Every card carrying member of a political party has the right to decide who will represent them at the constituency.

“I am telling you, when PDP gets into government, we will re­visit that Electoral Bill and put the normalcy into it. Why can’t the president just do the right thing? It is not going to affect him.

“He should put Nigeria in a better state so that his name will be in gold in the country’s history. Otherwise, we are just fooling ourselves.

“He said it is too expensive. Whatever money he wants to spend to bring about a civilized process for our democracy, no matter the amount of money it may cost you, you should do it. It is important that we do that. It shouldn’t be a halfway measure”.

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