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Electoral Act Amendment:Role of presidential aspirants exposed

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By Jide Ajani & Tina Akannam
LAGOS—THERE were indications, yesterday, that the rejection of amendments to the Electoral Act, 2010 by the National Assembly might have been fuelled by two Presidential aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Vanguard can reveal that the two aspirants are slugging it out to be the consensus candidate from the North.

This is just as chairman of the consensus committee, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, has declared that picking a northern consensus candidate on the platform of the PDP was in the interest of the nation.

On proposals to the National Assembly for the fresh amendments which have been variously linked to the Presidency, Vanguard was reliably informed that it was the two presidential aspirants from the North who held separate meetings with the different caucuses of the two chambers of the National Assembly.

The series of consultations, Vanguard gathered, were surreptitiously done.
A source in the Senate told Vanguard that at “separate times, one of the two aspirants held meetings with legislative caucuses – both in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“The series of meetings were also followed by another between the other aspirant and some legislators privately, too.

Two presidential contenders

“The kernel of what the two politicians told the law makers was that the contents of the proposal for the amendment were grossly undemocratic.

The two presidential contenders also made it clear that the undemocratic nature of such proposals rests in the fact that from the out set, a candidate would have an unassailable advantage over the other contenders.”

The proposed amendments as sent, sought to allow the caucuses of political parties to decide the style and format of the party congresses.

By extension, caucuses of the parties would reserve the latitude to decide on the type of primaries the parties would have – whether direct or indirect.

In addition, the final composition of the number of delegates who will be eligible to vote in the primaries would be at the determination of the caucuses.

With the proposal, such aides like ministers, special advisers, senior special assistants, commissioners, special assistants and chairmen of government parastatals would become automatic delegates.

The source said that one of the presidential aspirants  “employed his contacts with some of the state governors who are yet to jump on board President Jonathan’s campaign to influence some legislators.”

He added: “The other aspirant also did same and therefore, made it possible for the proposal to be defeated.”

However, the camp of President Jonathan, according to a campaign team member, “is unfazed with the refusal of the National Assembly to pass the amendments as proposed.

What has happened does not bother the campaign team because we are working and we are sure of the state of affairs in the party.”  He added: “We are also confident that our support base continues to increase and magnify by the day.

For those who think President Jonathan is losing anything, the primaries would demonstrate the massive support of Mr. President.”

Meanwhile, Chairman of the consensus committee that has been mandated to screen the four presidential aspirants for the purpose of picking a consensus candidate, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, has declared that producing a northern consensus candidate for the Presidency was for the nation’s interest.

Speaking in Dutse, yesterday, shortly after holding a meeting with Governor Sule Lamido at the Government House, Mallam Ciroma said members of the committee were in the state to meet with people with a view to enriching their report and get suggestions to determine a consensus candidate from the North.

Publishing findings

His words:  “Everybody that is with us is to try to help Nigeria. So, the work is not a P.D.P alone, anybody who emerges as president of this country, he is the president of everybody and we cannot close our door to people who are not P.D.P”.

Malam Ciroma who said his committee would soon make its finding public, told journalists that at the moment they had visited many states in the region to make wider consultations and get inputs from diverse people noting that they have been going round the North to ensure that they make the right choice.

The former Minister of Finance, added that already his committee had visited Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Yobe, and Zamfara, and that as soon as it finishes its assignment, the committee will make its recommendation  public.

He said: “We have gone far in our undertakings, we are going round because we want to sound the views of other people, we don’t want the exercise to be done by only nine of us.”

The former minister was in company of Wazirin Bauchi Alhaji Muhammad Bello Kirfi and Ambassador Muhammadu Anka.

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