Senate approves direct, indirect or consensus for party primaries

Floor of the Senate

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

Special Assistant to the Senate President, Ezrel Tabiowo, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.

He said the 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.”

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The clause provides that a National Convention shall be held for the ratification of the candidate with the highest number of votes.

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

This is as the Senator recalled that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had signified withholding his assent on the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 which the National Assembly had passed and forwarded to him on Thursday, November 18, 2021.

Senator Abdullahi noted that the rationale for withholding assent bordered on the President’s observation in Clause 84.

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 as constitutionally ensured.

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This was after he was advised by relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government who had a thorough review of the Bill

Senator Abdullahi, however, explained that the motion for re-commital of the bill to the Committee of 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 of the Bill as passed and recommit same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and passage.

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