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Again, NASS passes amended Electoral Bill, adopts three options for party primaries

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The National Assembly on Tuesday passed the Electoral Amendment Bill following reconsideration by the lawmakers due to the opposing stance of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The passage signified the adoption of direct, indirect, and consensus model of primary elections for political parties in the country.

The passage followed the adoption of a motion on “Rescission on Clause 84 of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and Committal to the Committee of the Whole.”

The motion was sponsored by Sen. Abdullahi Yahaya (APC-Kebbi).

During his presentation, Yahaya disclosed that there were some fundamental issues that required fresh legislative action by both chambers of the National Assembly on clause 84 of the bill.

Clause 84 deals with the mode of primary election to be used by political parties to select candidates for elective offices.

According to him, this necessitated a joint leadership meeting of the National Assembly to give Nigerians an enduring electoral act that would stand the test of time.

Thereafter, Senate President Ahmad Lawan after the adoption of the motion said bypassing the amendment on clause 84, meant the NASS had concluded its task on the electoral act amendment bill.

He further clarified the slight difference in the resolutions of both Chambers noting that while the house passed the mode of primaries to be indirect and direct, the senate had passed the mode to be direct, indirect, or consensus.

Lawan said what the National Assembly had done was to give a clear and sufficient definition to each mode of primaries.

He said the National Assembly was glad it was able to achieve the consensus, adding that it was very optimistic that President Buhari would sign the bill this time around.

“Our desire is to ensure that we reform the electoral processes in Nigeria, for better transparency, better accountability, and integrity and to the satisfaction of Nigerians.

“Political parties, when the bill is signed into law would have the responsibility to ensure they follow the law, otherwise they will end up missing the opportunity to participate in the elections,” Lawan said.

Lawan thanked the lawmakers for ensuring the passage of the bill, saying that the bill would ensure that the votes of every Nigerian would count.

READ ALSO: Gbajabiamila, others influenced NASS decision on direct primary for personal interest —Senator N’Allah

In the Lower Chambers, the House of Representatives also passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

This means an agreement with the Senate’s decision on consensus as part of the three modes of conducting party primaries by political parties.

In a brief deliberation on Tuesday in Abuja, the House of Representatives amended the controversial Clause 84 of the Bill.

Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Reps, said it had concluded its task on the Amendment to the Electoral Act by passing the amendment to Clause 84 which was the reason President Buhari withdrew his assent with the only option of direct primaries.

In a press briefing after the plenary, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, the Spokesperson of the House of Reps disclosed that the Reps noticed that the Senate added consensus which was not part of what the President recommended.

He said that the house in its wisdom admitted that such differences in the mode of party primaries by the two chambers could be an issue that would cause a delay in assenting the bill by the president.

“So, we decided to wave the house rule to enable us to look at other options that will satisfy the needs of time.

“The political parties are calling for full options, which are direct, indirect, and consensus,” he said.

He said that there was nothing to be worried about on the issue of consensus, adding that there must be written consent of other aspirants indicating their voluntary withdrawal of other aspirants in any consensus arrangements

“And where such consensus failed, it shall go to direct or indirect primary or a special convention shall be held to ratify the choice of a consensus candidate,” he said.

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