Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) has identified differences in the Electoral Bill 2021 the two chambers of the National Assembly have passed just as the Green Chamber has resolved to investigate the alleged exclusion of Rivers State from states to benefit from the Buhari administration World Bank loans.
Governor Nyesom Wike on Tuesday alleged that the Federal Government singled out his state from those eligible to benefit from the loans. He also alleged that only Rivers was excluded from the list of states initially pencilled to benefit.
During Wednesday’s plenary, Solomon Bob from Rivers State moved a motion calling for an investigation into the allegation.
President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded a loan request to the National Assembly for approval of $4 billion and €710 million external loans.
While moving the motion, Bob said the “alleged exclusion is capable of being interpreted as a partisan vindictiveness against the people of the state because of differences of opinion on national issues.”
The motion was opposed by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase, who argued that the motion was not urgent to be discussed as part of motions of urgent public importance, and called for the motion to be stepped down and put under notice.
But, the legislator from Rivers declined to step it down, and rather amended the prayer to read that Rivers State should be included if it is the only state exempted.
The prayer was adopted by the House.
PLAC’s identification is however coming ahead of moves by the Senate and the House of Representatives to harmonise their different versions of the Bill.
On Wednesday, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, named Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya as the Leader of the seven-member conference committee to meet with the House of Representatives team to iron out the contentious aspects of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill.
Other members of the Senate committee are, Kabiru Gaya (North-West), Ajibola Basiru (South-West), Danjuma Goje (North-East), Uche Ekwunife (South-East), Sani Musa (North-Central), and Mathew Urhoghide (South-South).
A close observation of the seven-member committee members revealed that only one of them (Urhoghide) voted in support of the electronic transmission of results when there was a division on the issue.
Ekwunife was not available to cast her vote while the remaining four voted against the electronic transmission of results until the Independent National Electoral Commission got approval from the Nigerian Communication Commission and the National Assembly.
PLAC is a non-governmental organisation committed to strengthening democratic governance and citizens’ participation in Nigeria. It works to enhance citizens’ engagement with state institutions, and to promote transparency and accountability in policy and decision-making processes.
The main focus of PLAC’s intervention in the democratic governance process is on building the capacity of the legislature and reforming the electoral process.
Since its establishment, PLAC has grown into a leading institution with capacity to deliver cutting-edge research, policy analysis and advocacy. PLAC receives funding support from donors and other philanthropic sources.
According to the group, variations in the bill will be the subject of a harmonisation meeting between the two chambers as they constitute their harmonisation teams this week.
‘’Two key differences relate to the clauses on the method of transmission of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is clause 51 in the Senate version of the Bill and clause 50 in the House of Representatives version.
‘’Another key difference is in the mode of conduct of primaries. Both houses stipulate direct and indirect primaries as methods of nomination of candidates by political parties. These are however drafted differently by both houses and will need to be harmonised.
‘’Other observations made, range from material differences in the contents of clauses, to numbering of clauses and other nominal inconsistencies’’, PLAC says.