Electoral Bill: Senate approves direct primaries for parties

…Says INEC to determine transfer of election results

By Benjamin Arida://

Senate yesterday towed the path of the House of Representatives through the amendment of  Section 87 of the Electoral Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 by recommending direct primaries for all political parties for election of aspirants for the various elective positions in the country. 

Similarly, the upper legislative chamber amended the controversial clause 52(3) of the Bill which subjected transmission of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to confirmation of adequacy and security of national network coverage by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.

The Senate, while making the amendments to some clauses of the bill passed on July 15, 2021, eexplained that the decision to subject the amended clauses of the bill to re-committal was reached after critical examination by the Senate Committee on INEC.

The chamber added that some fundamental issues which required fresh legislative action were observed by the Senator Kabiru Gaya-led committee in the bill. 

Accordingly, the chamber in a motion for re-committal,  re-amended certain aspects of the bill contained in Clauses 43, 52, 63 and 87, respectively. 

On the electronic transmission of results, the Senate had in July during consideration of report on the bill submitted by the Commitee on INEC, amended clause 52(3) as recommended. 

While the clause as presented by the committee in the report , says INEC can transmit election results electronically  where and when practicable , the Senate passed the amended  version which says “INEC can transmit election results electronically subject to confirmation of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) of adequacy and security of National Network.

The House of Representatives at the time adopted the clause as originally recommended by committees of both chambers on INEC.

Consequently since then, the Senate has been in the eye of the storm which apparently made it to make U- turn by deleting its controversially amended clause.

Senate’s action in this direction, was sequel to submissions made to that effect by the Leader of the Senate, Dr. Yahaya Abdullahi (APC Kebbi North), as listed on the Order Paper.

Though the Senate Leader in his submissions listed clauses 43 , 52 , 63 and 87 for further legislative action but only 52 and 87 were amended while the other two , were adopted as earlier passed.

In jetissioning its earlier position against electronic transmission of election results by INEC without approval from any agency, the Senate deleted outrightly clause 52(3) it passed in July.

The clause states: “The commission (INEC), may consider electronic transmission of results provided that the National coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by NCC”.

The clause 52(2) used to replace the jetisioned one reads “Subject to section 63 of this bill, voting at an election and transmission of results under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by INEC, which is more or less, giving the electoral body, the power to transmit election results electronically where and when practicable as earlier recommended by committees of both chambers on INEC in their separate reports.

The amendment effected on Section 87 of the bill reads: “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this bill shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which shall be monitored by the commission.”

The new position was against the earlier one taken in July as contained in section 87(2) which reads: “The procedure for the nomination of candidates by the political parties shall be by direct or indirect primaries.

However before adoption of the amendment, Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South), Shaibu Lau (PDP Taraba North), Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West) kicked against it in their various submissions.

In his remarks after the amendments, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan said the position taken on the two clauses represent Senate’s new position which the seven-member conference committee earlier set up, should push through when they meet with third counterparts from the House of Representatives.

Members of the Conference Committee on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 are expected to meet with their counterparts in the House of Representatives to harmonise the two versions passed by both chambers.

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