Amended Electoral Bill To Be Reintroduced To House Of Representatives Today– Speaker


Gbajabiamila: We'll Reintroduce Electoral Bill After Amending Direct  Primary Clause – Daylight Reporters


Olusola Bello

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the House will reintroduce the amendment to the Electoral Bill today.

He expressed his profound gratitude to all the members of the House for their work to pass the most critical legislation. He said: “I want to commend you all for the work done. Unfortunately, that Bill did not receive presidential assent, and it is unlikely that it will in its current form.  Now, we have to choose between sticking to our guns regarding the provision to mandate direct primary elections for political parties or reworking that provision to save the rest of the Bill.

He however stated that the House will work quickly to address the mitigating concerns, pass the Bill and send it back to His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.

The speaker who stated this at the resumption of plenary for the 2021 legislative year, Tuesday, said, he remains convinced that the proposal for direct primary elections is valuable for building accountability in our political system.

“But we must not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.  Therefore, the House will reintroduce the amendment this tomorrow.  And we will work quickly to address the mitigating concerns, pass the Bill and send it back to His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari for assent”, he said

He said as to the issues relating to inelegant drafting and other technical errors in the Bill.  “This is a matter of concern as it appears the version sent to the President differs from what is circulating in the public domain.  However, in December of last year, I appointed a technical team to look into the issue.  I expect to have their report within the next day or two so that we can proceed to the next stage”

“We have less than thirteen months to the next general election, so time is of the essence.  A credible electoral law is what the people want.  It is what the people deserve, and we must give to them.  The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill includes many other provisions that will serve our democracy well, and we cannot throw away the baby with the bathwater”

“Our current constitutional review effort is as crucial as the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.  Amending our nation’s constitution to address longstanding areas of disagreement and remove the vestiges of militarism from our democracy is one of the central commitments we made in the 9th House.  It is a commitment we must meet or risk the harsh judgment of history.”

“Therefore we will prioritise action to pass the Constitution Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives.  Fortunately, we are in the final stages of that effort and will shortly conclude this all-important work.  According to the deputy speaker, the first set of amendments will be forwarded to the state assemblies for consideration before the end of February.”

He told his colleagues that they still have a lot left to do in a very brief time.  Principal amongst these priorities is the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.

“Now let it be clear to all that our only objective in introducing that provision was to strengthen the foundations of our democracy so that it works for all of our nation’s people.  The process by which political parties nominate candidates for election is essential, perhaps even just as important as the general election itself.  A primary nomination process that deprives the majority of party members of the opportunity to choose who represents them in the general elections”

According to him, some argued that political parties do not have proper registers of their members, which was a reason to reject the direct primary option.  “This is an appalling admission that political parties in the country do not have credible and up to date registers of their members.  We are left to question how those parties have thus far managed their affairs, including conducting congresses and primary elections, whether by direct or indirect means.”

Besides, he said, it can be inferred that the failure to maintain a proper register of members violates the spirit of the constitution, as it makes it impossible for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enforce the constitutional requirement for political parties to ensure that their membership reflects the federal character of Nigeria.

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