Electoral Act: HOUSE AMENDS BILL, ACCOMMODATES INDIRECT PRIMARIES

The House of Representatives has amended the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 to accommodate indirect primaries as an alternative procedure for nominating the candidates of political parties for elective positions.

Lawmakers in the plenary of the House in Abuja on Wednesday, unanimously amended Clause 84 (2) of the bill, which hitherto recognised only direct primaries, as the method for nominating party candidates.

The new provision now accommodates both direct and indirect primaries.

It reads, “The procedure for nomination of Candidates by Political Parties for various elective positions shall be by direct or indirect primaries.”

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had withheld his assent to the bill in December last year, giving some reasons, including the cost of conducting direct primaries by political parties and security challenges.

The Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, presided over the consideration and amendment of the bill on Wednesday.

Before the proceedings began, Gbajabiamila reminded members that the amendment would be restricted to the clause the President objected to in his letter to the House, which was limited to direct primaries.

After the clause was amended, the speaker again clarified that every other provision of the bill as earlier passed, remained the same, except for clause 84 (2), which had been amended to address the President’s objection.

“Honourable colleagues, nothing else was changed in the bill.

“Only clause 84(2), which had to do with direct primaries, was amended”, he stated.

Earlier, the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Rep. Abubakar Fulata, in line with the rules of the House, moved a motion for a recommittal of the bill to the Committee of the Whole for consideration.

His motion reads, “The House notes that the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill was passed by the National Assembly and transmitted to the President for assent but the assent was withheld.

“Also notes that in withholding the assent, the President particularly referred to the amendment of Section 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 dealing with the mode of nomination of candidates by Political Parties.

“Further notes that Section 87(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides that the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for various elective positions shall be by direct or indirect primaries.

“Recalls that the National Assembly amended Section 87(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as Clause 84(2) of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to read thus:

‘The procedure for nomination of Candidates by Political Parties for various elective positions shall be by direct primaries.'”

“Cognisant of the need to allow Political Parties to choose the procedure for nomination of candidates for elective positions.

“Resolves to commit Section 84(2) of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to the Committee of the Whole for reconsideration in accordance with Order 12, Rule 20 (1-3) of the Standing Orders of the House.”

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