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Editor's PickSenate ‘smuggles’ consensus into electoral bill in kowtowing to Buhari

Senate ‘smuggles’ consensus into electoral bill in kowtowing to Buhari

OrderPaperToday – The Senate has introduced a new consensus element into the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and passed the controversial legislation in compliance with the position taken by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The President, in giving reasons why he refused assent to the bill passed in November, objected to the legislation of compulsory direct primaries by political parties. He asked the lawmakers to make it optional for parties to either use direct or indirect primaries in nominating candidates for elections.

The President said the provision was undemocratic and had serious security, financial and legal consequences, asides from infringing on the democratic rights of parties to determine the manner of conducting their internal affairs. He further explained that it would also impact negatively on the rights of citizens to participate in government as constitutionally ensured.

But in considering the President’s position, the Senate, as listed on its order paper for Wednesday, chose indirect and consensus options in addition to the direct provision earlier approved.

It also approved a recommendation 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 87(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.

This amendment followed a motion for its re-committal to the Committee of the Whole as sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North).

The Senate Leader, 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 87.

He however, explained that the motion for re-committal 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 chamber rescinded its decision on the affected clause and recommit same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and passage.

When the motion was put into vote after consideration it was unanimously adopted by senators.

The senate, upon resumption from recess Tuesday, tacitly ruled out the option of overring the President’s veto.

Ojochenemi Onje-James
Ojochenemi Onje-James
Ojochenemi Onje-James is a research writer and journalist with years of proven footprints in areas of crime and politics. She has M.Sc in International Relations and Strategic Studies; and B.Sc in Mass Communication.
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