Senate has re-amended the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2022, following the agreement of the House of Representatives on consensus as one of the modes of primary elections for emergence of candidates in all political parties.
The re-amendment was sequel to a motion on “Rescission on clause 84 of the Electoral Act No. 26 2010 (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and Committal to the Committee of the Whole” sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC Kebbi North).
The National Assembly had in November last year transmitted the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment), 2021 to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
But the President as stated in separate letters addressed to the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila in December last year, refused assent to the bill on account of mandatory direct primaries recommended for political parties without any other options.
Accordingly on resumption from Christmas/New Year recess last week, both the Senate and the House of Representatives expunged clause 87(2) which contained the provisions and replaced it with clause 84 which widened the option.
But while the Senate in clause 84, makes provision for three options of direct, indirect and consensus as possible mode of primary elections which political parties can use in electing their candidates for general elections, the House of Representatives version limited the options to direct and indirect primaries.
In getting the re-amended bill transmitted to the President for assent within available time frame ahead of the 2023 general elections, the House, as announced by the Senate President, has concurred with Senate’s version of amendment at joint leadership meeting of both chambers.
Lawan explained that the amendment accommodate clearly define provisions for the mode of primaries.
He expressed optimism that the bill would be signed into law when transmitted by the National Assembly to the President for his assent.
The Senate President warned that political parties that fail or refuse to abide with the provisions on the mode of primaries, would miss out on the opportunity to participate during elections.
He said, “On the mode of conducting primaries by parties to produce candidates, we have concluded our task on the amendment to the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 Bill.
“You would recalled that the Senate and the House passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill with slight difference.
“While the House passed the mode of primaries to be direct and indirect only, the Senate passed the mode of primaries to be direct, indirect and consensus.
“What we have done is to give very clear and sufficient definition to each mode of primaries.
“The direct primaries is well define on how it will be conducted; ditto the Indirect primaries. And for the consensus, the two chambers have produced in this Bill, very clear definition of how a consensus candidate would emerge.
“Therefore, we are very glad that we have been able to achieve this consensus between the two chambers to arrive at this harmonized version, and we are also very optimistic that Mr. President will sign the bill.
“Our desire is to ensure that we reform the electoral processes in Nigeria for better transparency, accountability and Integrity to the satisfaction of Nigerians and the international community.
“Political parties, when this is signed into law, will have the responsibility of ensuring that they follow the law, otherwise they will end up missing the opportunity to participate in elections.”
The amended bill provides in clause 84 (2) that, “The procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct, indirect primaries or Consensus.”
It added in 84(3) that “a political party shall not impose nomination qualification or disqualification criteria, measures, or conditions on any aspirant or candidate for any election in its constitution, guidelines, or rules for nomination of candidates for elections, except as prescribed under sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 177 and 187 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”
On direct primaries in 84 (4), the amended version provides 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 shall vote for aspirants of their choice at a designated centre at each ward of the Federation.
“(b) The procedure in paragraph (a) above of this subsection shall be adopted for direct primaries in respect of Gubernatorial, Senatorial, Federal and State Constituencies.
“(c) Special Conventions or Congresses shall be held to ratify the candidate with the highest number of votes at designated centres at the National, State, Senatorial, Federal and State Constituencies, as the case may be.”
On Indirect Primaries, the bill provides under 84(5) 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, the political party shall – (i) hold a 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 where delegates shall vote for aspirants of their choice.
“(ii) the aspirant with the highest number of votes cast at the end of voting shall be declared the winner of the Presidential primaries of the political party and that aspirant’s name shall be forwarded to the Commission as the candidate of the party.”
It further provides under 84(7) that, “Where there is only one aspirant or a consensus candidate in a political party for any of the elective positions mentioned in subsection (5)(a), (b), (c) and (d), the party shall convene a special convention or congress at a designated Centre on a specified date for the confirmation of such aspirant and the name of the aspirant shall be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party.”
The Electoral Bill provides in 84(8) that, “A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline in its constitution and rule the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress meeting.”
On Consensus Candidate the bill in 84(9)(a) provides, “A political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate.”
It goes further in paragraph (b) that, “Where a political party is unable to secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the purpose of a consensus candidate, it shall revert to the choice of direct or indirect primaries for the nomination of candidates for the aforesaid elective positions.”
The bill states in paragraph (c) that, “A Special Convention or nomination Congress shall be held to ratify the choice of consensus candidates at designated centres at the National, State, Senatorial, Federal and State Constituencies, as the case may be.”
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