Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) says all eyes are now on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Bill 2022 since the National Assembly has adequately responded to the issues raised by him in his veto letter.
According to PLAC, a civic group, with the amendments made by the Legislative arm of the Nigerian government, election stakeholders are satisfied with the parliament.
The National Assembly returned from its end-of-year vacation to revisit the Electoral Bill, 2021, which President Buhari had vetoed just before Christmas in 2021.
In vetoing the bill, President Buhari objected to the adoption of direct primaries as the only mode for the selection of the candidates for election by political parties. The President’s veto generated serious worry among Nigerians who expressed concern that Buhari’s record of vetoing the Electoral Bill four times in a row since 2018 seemed to be a ploy to frustrate electoral reform.
Resuming plenary, the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday, January 19, responded to the President by adding indirect primaries as an additional mode for the selection of candidates by parties.
The Senate differed from the House of Representatives by including an additional mode – Consensus. This also raised concern of possible delay in the passage of the Bill. After several behind-the-scene negotiations, both houses returned to plenary on Tuesday, January 25 and recommitted the bill, having negotiated a definition of how Consensus could be a mode for selection of candidates. Indeed, thresholds for this were set in the re-committal of the bill by both houses.
‘’In the new amendments, provision is made for the participation of all party members at designated centres in each ward of the federation, for direct primaries. Special Conventions or Congresses are also to be held mandatorily to ratify the candidates with the highest number of votes from the exercise, for each of the elective positions.
‘’For the adoption of a consensus candidate, the bill states that a political party will be required to secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the particular position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate.
‘’Where the party is unable to obtain this, then it shall revert to the choice of direct or indirect primaries to nominate a candidate. Furthermore, a Special Convention or nomination Congress shall be held to ratify the choice of consensus candidates’’, PLAC says.