By Sylvanus Tyoakaa, Abuja
The Senate on Wednesday amended the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, deleting a clause which made direct primary compulsory for political parties.
Accordingly, the senate amended Clause 84(2) of the report approved direct, indirect primaries or consensus as 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 part.”
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 centers 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 (APC, Kebbi North).
Abdullahi, 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 rational for withholding assent bordered on his observation in Clause 84.
President Buhari in the letter dated December 13, 2021, and address to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had explained that his decision to withhold assent to the electoral bill was informed by advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government after a thorough review.
Buhari had refused assent to the Bill, saying signing it into law would have serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences on the country, particularly in view of Nigeria’s peculiarities.
The President had also maintained that it would also impact negatively on the rights of citizens to participate in government as constitutionally ensured.
However, Abdullahi 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 senate 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.