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Electoral Bill: Senate reverses self, settles for direct/indirect primaries, consensus option

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The Senate has reversed itself on the Electoral Amendment Bill one month after President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to it over inclusion of direct primaries as a compulsory candidates-nomination process for all political parties, now settling for direct and or indirect primaries or the consensus option, any method that a political party might deem more practicable for it to adopt in the nomination its flag-bearers in elections.

The passage by the Senate, followed its decision to rescind the affected clause of the Bill as passed and recommit same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration.

Accordingly, the Senate in Clause 84(2) of the report recommended direct, indirect primaries or consensus as procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions.

It also recommended 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 part.”

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 centers in each State Capital on specified dates.”

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

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday gave the hint, while welcoming lawmakers from their annual Christmas break.

Lawan said the Christmas break afforded them the opportunity to consult widely with their constituents and their counterparts in the House of Representatives.

Lawan had said: “Distinguished colleagues, the Senate postponed discussions on the consideration of the response of Mr President on the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill to enable us consult with our counter parts in the House of Representatives and also consult with our Constituents.

“Like we all know, the Senate and indeed the National Assembly worked so hard on the Bill. Having consulted, the Senate will expeditiously look into the issue.”

Relying on the removal of indirect primaries from the existing 2010 Electoral Amendment Act by the National Assembly, President Buhari, in December, 2021, vetoed the Amendment Bill.

He also cited the humongous cost of conducting direct primaries by the various political parties and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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