By: Luka Binniyat
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives, yesterday, passed for the second reading, a bill seeking to amend the altered 1999 Constitution to accommodate the demand by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to move the date of the 2011 General election from January to March 2011 The Reps also condemned a comment by Senator Ayo Arise in which he admonished the Senate “not to behave so unruly like the House of Representatives”.
The Reps passed the bill into second reading without even debating it. The bill seeks to expunge the clause which states that elections must take place 150 days and not later than 120 days before May 29.
The new bill is seeking to now make elections hold 90 days (from January) and not later than 30 days (from March) before May 29.Deputy Speaker of the Reps, Hon. Bayero Nafada, who presided over yesterday’s plenary, observed that the issue was too important to have attracted any debate. He then announced that the ad hoc Committee of the House of Reps on the Review of the constitution would hold a public hearing on the amendment for the public to make input into the bill.
“The Public Hearing is taking place on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, we are all expected to be in the chamber for the special plenary session, in which we would vote on the clauses.
All members are advised to come on time, because if we do not make the required two-third-third requirement, the constitution cannot be amended”, he said.
Meanwhile the House of Reps has said that it was not part of the controversial proposal of “the right-of-first-refusal” The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Eseme Eyiboh, who spoke on the issue dissociated the House from the clamour by incumbent elected public officials to have automatic nomination to contest for the same positions under the banner of their parties.
According to him, “It is not part of our proposition, we are have not been asked to insert that in the proposed amendment of the Electoral Act. We believe that the clause negates the principle of our democracy and it would not help us in anyway.
“Since it is the popular view of Nigerian that the right-of-first-refusal is not acceptable, whenever it comes before us, we shall tow the side of the majority”.
Meanwhile, the Reps have taken condemned the utterance by Senator Ayo Arise which was broadcast live on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) on Wednesday in which he rebuked a rowdy Senate in plenary, “not to behave so unruly like the House of Representatives”.
Arise, was ostensibly making imput during the heated debate on the proposed amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act which it finally threw away.
Eyiboh, who briefed the Press yesterday said, “the House of Representatives views the comment of the distinguished Senator as very, disrespectful and unfortunate. His statement was in bad taste and very sad, considering his stature in society and we frown at it.
The House wants to call on the Senator to immediately begin to make mitigation on his statement in the spirit of the harmony that the two chambers have continued to enjoyed. We advise him to publicly retract his statement in view of the damaging effect it has brought on the reputation of this Honourable House”, he said.