The National Assembly has adopted the electronic transmission of election results in line with the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Similarly, the legislative body also resolved that political parties should adopt direct primaries as mode of electing their candidates for elective offices.
The adoption of direct primary option, even though has not gone down well with some segments of the political class, readily reminds Nigerians of Option A4 used in the third republic. It was one of the most successful mode of conducting both primaries and the election proper in 1993 and led to freest and most credible election in the nation’s history.
This was as the Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday respectively passed the harmonised version of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The passage followed the consideration of the report of the Conference Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on the bill.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had last month constituted a seven-man conference committee to meet with their counterparts in the House to harmonise the differences in the Senate and House versions of the bill.
The Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, who chaired the Conference Committee in the Senate, presented the report on the harmonised version of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
In his presentation, he said the bill when passed by the National Assembly, and subsequently assented into law by the President, would regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory Elections.
He disclosed that the Conference Committee at its retreat had considered and adopted twenty-one clauses in the bill.
“It is imperative to point out that with the successful harmonisation of this bill, a process that started from the 7th Assembly through to the 8th National Assembly has now been completed by the 9th National Assembly.
“The bill is now ready for passage and Presidential assent.
“I am happy to state that most of what we call “citizens top priorities” on the Electoral Act Amendment, including the use of technology have been addressed by the Electoral Bill, 2021”, the Senate Leader said.
The chamber on October 13, 2021, re-amended certain aspects of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill contained in Clauses 43, 52, 63 and 87, respectively.
The re-amendment to the clauses was duly carried out amid a motion for re-committal sponsored by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi.
Accordingly, while adopting the conference committee report on Tuesday, the Senate approved the re-amended clauses to provide for direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.
It also empowered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Clause 63 to determine the procedure for voting and transmission of results during an election.
At the House, the report was approved at plenary yesterday, after it was laid by the Co-Chairman of the Conference committee, Hon. Akeem Adeyemi.
However, following the laying of the report, the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu raised a Point of Order under Privilege, saying members should be given copies to go through whether there were differences or not.
He was of the opinion that the House should set a date that would enable members to consider the reports, adding that it was a good judgment that the House Committee Chairman on Rules and Business, Hon. Hassan Fulata moved a motion for the suspension of the consideration of the report.
Elumelu noted that he didn’t see any need for the House to hastily consider the report, insisting that members should be given time to go through the report.
Responding, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said it was the harmonisation committee report for the House to adopt.
The Speaker insisted that everyone was aware of what the report contains, stressing that the two point of divergence in the Bill had even been recommitted in the Senate.
Gbajabiamila added, “We must all agree that the Electoral Act is something that we need to wave running behind right now. Nigerians have been asking for this day since June.
“You know that this House is adjoining till Tuesday because we need about two extra days for the committee’s to complete their work on the budget.
“So when you want to push this to next week – to the week after, we don’t have that luxury of time. The reason why the Electoral Act was not amended last time was because we thought it was too late in the day and we shouldn’t be shifting the goalposts when it’s almost time for election.
“We have primaries coming in the summer of next year. I think, you know, time is of the essence and particularly because the issues are so clear, discussion of yours is a bit dilatory.”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said it received the news of the passage of the harmonised Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which among other things, provided for direct primaries for nomination of candidates for elections by political parties with shock.
It further stated that no political party has the right to impose it’s processes on another, alleging that it was what the All Progressives Congress (APC) controlled National Assembly intends to do with the amendment.
In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP stated: “Our party holds that it is the inalienable right of each political party, within the context of our constitutional democracy to decide its form of internal democratic practices including the processes of nominating its candidates for elections at any level.”
Ologbondiyan further stated that the PDP also believes that no political party should force its own processes on any other political party as the direct primaries amendment, “a practice of the APC sought to achieve.”
The PDP stated that it shall within the next 48 hours, make its final decision with respect to the amendment known.
huks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale and Emameh Gabriel in Abuja