National Assembly endorses independent candidacy for elections in Nigeria

THE Senate, on Tuesday, May 16, approved the participation of independent candidates in presidential, governorship, national and state assemblies and local government councils elections in Nigeria.

As a result of the development, the Senate instructed the Clerk of the National Assembly to submit Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 58 for President Muhammadu Buhari’s consideration in accordance with the Authentication Act.

The Bill seeks to alter parts of the Constitution to allow for the participation of independent candidates in Nigerian elections.

At plenary on Tuesday, the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege informed the upper legislative chamber  that the Gombe State House of Assembly had passed Constitution Alteration Bill Nos. 46 and 58 and sent its resolution to the National Assembly.

Omo-Agege, who is the chairman of the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review, said this satisfies the requirements of Section 9(2) of the Constitution for passage.

After passing the motion, the Senate instructed the Clerk of the National Assembly to send the Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 58, which provides for independent candidacy, to the President for assent into law.

The bill to permit independent candidature in Nigerian elections was approved for a second reading by the House of Representatives in May 2020.

The “Bill for an Act to Alter the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 Constitution” was sponsored by Chief Whip Mohammed Monguno.

Independent candidates will be able to run for any electoral office across the nation without using a political party platform if the Senate and two-thirds (24) of the 36 state Houses of Assembly approve the idea.

The National Assembly had earlier sent 16 of the 35 bills to amend the constitution to the President for approval and they were signed into law, while 19 were rejected.

By making provisions for independent candidates, the Senate is attempting to change the current electoral legislation, which mandates that candidates for elections must be sponsored by political parties.

The independent candidacy bill was considered in the 8th Assembly.






     

     

    The requirements for independent candidature state that for any Nigerian national to run for President as an independent candidate, he or she must obtain the verified signatures of 20 per cent or more of the state’s registered voters, provided that no registered voter may sign for more than one independent candidate running for the same office.

    A minimum of 20% of the state’s registered voters from each local government area must provide verifiable signatures for the independent candidate for the office of governor.

    Additionally, the measure mandates that anyone running for National Assembly must collect the verified signatures of 20 per cent or more of the registered voters from each local government area in the candidate’s chosen senatorial district or federal constituency.

    The proposed legislation gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the authority to specify whether independent candidates must pay administrative costs for particular elections.

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