UPDATE: Senate re-amends Electoral Bill, adopts all three options for party primaries

we did it in response to the President and our constituents – Lawan

By Haruna Salami

The Senate Wednesday removed direct primary as the only option of recruiting candidates for political parties expanding the space to include indirect, direct and consensus primaries.

 Senate President, Ahmad Lawan in his remarks  after the new amendment said they did that in response to the President their constituents.

“What we have done today is to respond to the observations of Mr. President  and because our constituents have impressed on us on the need to expedite action on those observations made  and we have done that very patriotically.

“Today, as the bill stands, there is provision for all the options for selection of candidates from the presidency to the councillorship. The available options we have are the direct primaries, the indirect primaries and the consensus candidature.

“This becomes law, what this means is that the political parties are now challenged to chose what is appropriate for them when it come to the processes of producing their candidates.

“I will urge that we practice all these three so that we are able to develop them because there is advantage in it just like there could be disadvantage in them.

“ Is to ensure proper and appropriate application these models. If we don’tas practicing politicians, and our parties try to cut corners, these processes will continue to be disadvantages at all times.

“With this , we hope INEC, the electoral body will take advantage of all the available of all the amendments, including what they suggested to the committees, amendments that will enhance their performance”, he said.

It will be recalled that upper chamber Wednesday re-amended the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, passed by the National Assembly on November 18, 2021.

Accordingly, 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. 

It also approved the recommended 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 and shall adopt the procedure outlined below: (a) In the case of Presidential Primaries, all registered members of the party are to vote for aspirants of their choice at a designated centre at each ward of the federation. 

It provides further that, “similar procedure as in (a) above, shall be adopted for Gubernatorial, Senatorial, Federal and State Constituencies.

It added that, “Special Conventions should be held to ratify the candidate with the highest number of votes at designated centres at the National, State, Senatorial, Federal and State Constituencies.

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 presidential convention at a designated centre in the Federal Capital Territory or any other place within the Federation that is agreed to by the National Executive Committee of the party.

It provides further in sub-paragraph two (ii) that, “the aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting, shall be declared the winner of the Presidential primaries of the political party and the aspirant name shall be forwarded to the Commission as the candidate of the party.”

The amendment followed a motion for its re-commital to the Committee of the Whole.

The motion was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (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 84.

President Buhari in the letter dated December 13, 2021, and address to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had explained that his decision to withhold assent to the electoral bill was informed by advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government after a thorough review. 

According to the President, 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 on the rights of citizens to participate in government as constitutionally ensured.

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