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National Assembly amends electoral bill, approves direct, indirect, consensus for party primaries

All is set for President Mohammadu Buhari to assent to the amendment of the 2010 electoral Act bill as both arms of the National Assembly reworked and passed the bill without the provision for direct primaries for political parties.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives at plenary delected the cluse which made direct primaries mandatory and replace it with approval of direct, indirect and consensus as mode of choosing candidates by political parties for election.

The Senate on Wednesday re-amended the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, passed by the National Assembly on November 18, 2021.

In a statement on Wednesday, the pecial Assistant to the Senate President, Ezrel Tabiowo disclosed that the upper chamber, in Clause 84(2) of the report, approved direct, indirect primaries or consensus as procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions.

The Senate also approved in Clause 84(3) 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 party.”

Clause 84(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 centres 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.

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House of Representatives, on its part approved direct and indirect primary clauses as a mode of electing candidates by political parties for general elections.

This was originally the provision in the extant law, the Electoral Act of 2010 before the National Assembly in the course of tinkering with the Act expunged ‘indirect’ primary mode.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari withheld his assent to the bill transmitted to him, citing the impracticality of the direct primary mode at this time of the nation’s history.

The rejection however compelled the House and indeed the Senate to reconsider the bill and vote to include “direct and indirect primary” provision in the electoral bill.

Reconsidering the bill in the Committee of the Whole, the House unanimously passed the provision.

Buhari, in a letter to the Senate President Ahmad Lawan, had said signing the bill into law would have serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences on the country, particularly in view of Nigeria’s peculiarities.

He added that it would also impact negatively the rights of citizens to participate in government as constitutionally ensured.

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