Senate removes direct primary clause, passes electoral act amendment

The Senate on Wednesday removed the clause that makes direct primary mandatory for the election of candidates in political parties from the electoral act amendment bill.

The Senate in late 2021 passed a version of the bill and transmitted it to President Muhammadu Buhari who declined assent to the bill.

Besides the amendment to Clause 84 of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has informed lawmakers that any further proposals for amendments will be considered and incorporated during the “clean up” of the Bill.

Senate resolved to rescind its decision on the affected Clause of the Bill as passed and re-commit same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration.

Buhari had said that the mandatory use of direct primaries for all political parties in the country will be too expensive to execute, saying that it will put a financial burden on Nigeria’s slim resources.

He also expressed fears that the proposed mandatory use of direct primaries will amount to the violation of citizens’ rights will be violated and will lead to marginalisation for smaller political parties.

Buhari advised the National Assembly to look into the areas of concern and transmit the bill to him for assent.

House of Representatives speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and Lawan on Tuesday said the National Assembly will work on the proposed legislation and send it to Buhari.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday said it will not release an election timetable until the electoral act amendment has been passed.

“On the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before the National Assembly, the commission is encouraged by the Senate President’s assurance to give priority attention to the Bill when the National Assembly reconvenes from its recess today, and the commitment by the President to assent to the Bill as soon as the issue of mode of primaries by political parties is resolved,” INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu said in Abuja.

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