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Senate removes direct primary clause, passes Electoral Act Amendment Bill again

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THE Senate has removed the controversial Clause 84 from the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

The clause, which allows only direct primaries, was removed at Wednesday’s plenary after the upper legislative house went into the committee of a whole to consider President Buhari’s observations on the electoral bill.

The Senate made the necessary amendments following Order 87 Subsection (C) of the Senate Standing Orders.

President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan said other observations brought forward by lawmakers would be considered at the administrative level before it would be sent to President Buhari for assent.

The ICIR reported that the House of Representatives decided to reintroduce the electoral bill rejected by President Muhammadu in December 2021 on Wednesday.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila hinted it at the plenary resumption on Tuesday, January 18.

The speaker noted that the general elections in 2023 were fast approaching, hence the need for lawmakers to fast-track work on the electoral reforms.

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He also noted that the House could either override the veto of President Muhammadu Buhari or amend the bill based on the president’s observations.

He said, “Unfortunately, that bill did not receive presidential assent, and it is unlikely that it will in its current form. Now, we have to choose between sticking to our guns regarding the provision to mandate direct primary for political parties or reworking that provision to save the rest of the bill.

“I remain convinced that the proposal for direct primary is valuable for building accountability in our political system, but we must not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Therefore, the House will reintroduce the amendment tomorrow and we will work quickly to address the mitigating concerns, pass the bill and send it back to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, for assent.”

Gbajabiamila also decried the errors said to have been discovered in the bill, noting that the version transmitted to the president was different from the one being scrutinised by the public.

Buhari had withheld assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021, insisting that the inclusion of the mandatory direct primaries in the bill might pose financial, legal and security challenges.

While the House of Representatives led by Femi Gabajabiamila had resolved to debate the matter after they returned from recess in January, the Senate failed in an attempt to override the president’s veto.

The president” s rejection of the electoral bill angered many Nigerians, prompting some members of the National Assembly to threaten to override him and veto the bill.

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The ICIR also reported how political parties in Nigeria, through the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), the umbrella body of registered political parties in Nigeria, rejected the inclusion of a provision for compulsory adoption of direct primaries in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, thereby supporting the president” s stand.

President Muhammadu had earlier in December 2021 pointed to the clause that made it compulsory for political parties to adopt direct primaries to select candidates for elections as the reason he refused to sign the bill.

Nigerians are eagerly waiting for the decision taken in the lower chamber of the National assembly concerning the electoral bill.

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