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Editor's PickReps make direct primaries optional, shuns consensus

Reps make direct primaries optional, shuns consensus

OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has passed the controversial electoral act (amendment) bill with the option for political parties to adopt either direct or indirect primaries for the nomination of candidates.

The House however shunned a third option of consensus which the Senate had adopted in passing same bill earlier in the day.

The mood of the House was calm and upbeat as lawmakers seem satisfied with the amendment of the controversial clause 84 (2) only.

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, during consideration of the report on the bill, put the question whether House should adopt the position canvassed by Mr. President and the ‘ayes’ carried the day.

Recall that the President rejected the bill and requested that compulsory direct primaries be expunged to enable him assent to it.

Speaking to OrderPaper Nigeria after plenary, Mr. Preye Influence Oseke (APC, Bayelsa), faulted the senate for ‘smuggling’ the consensus clause into the electoral bill report.

The lawmaker, who represents Southern Ijaw federal constituency, also spoke on the reasons for the tension and row which engulfed plenary earlier: “The situation in the House today is just a normal parliamentary process. For President to withhold assent, it’s expected that he will give reasons. Clearly, it is the procedure that the bill will be recommitted to the House through a motion and then the Committee of the Whole (goes) for a clause-by-clause consideration.

“As expected, information came into the House that the Senate has included consensus in the bill that is being considered in the Senate. That is completely out of the House rules because the House does not allow something that is alien

“The House ought to stick to the original copy that was passed and the basis for withholding of the assent and that is why the Speaker had to read the communication from Mr. President over and over again.

“What they (Senate) did is completely out of the rules of the house. The procedure for electing political candidates should either be direct or indirect primary which lies with political parties, so bringing in consensus was completely outside of the original bill. Again, members looked at it that if we are talking about deepening of democracy we cannot be talking about consensus candidature because the law does not envisage that when you include the clause it will have ambiguity.

“When you say nomination of candidates should be done either by direct and indirect primaries, if you read through you will see that direct primaries gives the members of that political parties that are duly registered the opportunity to elect while indirect gives the delegates the opportunity to elect their candidate.

“For consensus, who are the people to sit to take the so call consensus decision, or will people just sit down in the office and say that is my candidate and he should be filed. The bases for consensus the argument is not tenable because amending the electoral act is simply to deepen democratic process.”

Lizzy Chirkpi
Lizzy Chirkpi
Lizzy Chirkpi has a BA in French and is a senior reporter at OrderPaper. She has keen interest in photojournalism and video documentary. She's also a writer and author of a book, "Pourquoi Le Francais." She likes reading, traveling and watching movies.
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