*…as Senate passes conference committee report on Electoral Act amendment bill

*…retains direct primaries for political parties

By Henry Umoru, ABUJA

THE  National Assembly, on Tuesday, passed the much-anticipated Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 after both the Senate and the House of Representatives deliberated extensively on the report of the Conference Committee on the bill.

The Senate passed the harmonized version of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

The passage followed the consideration of the report of the Conference Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on the bill.

In line with customary legislative procedures, the two chambers had in September set up  Conference Committees to reconcile disparity in the versions of the bill as passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Senate

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on October 13, constituted a seven-man conference committee to meet with their counterparts in the House to harmonize the differences in the Senate and House versions of the bill.

The Senate Leader,  Senator Yahaya Abdullahi(APC, Kebbi North) who chaired the Conference Committee in the Senate, presented the report on the harmonized version of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

In his presentation, he said that the bill when passed by the National Assembly, and subsequently assented into law by the President, would regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory Elections.

Abdullahi disclosed that the Conference Committee at its retreat, considered and adopted 21 clauses in the bill.

He said, “It is imperative to point out that with the successful harmonization of this bill, a process that started from the 7th Assembly through to the 8th National Assembly has now been completed by the 9th National Assembly.

“The bill is now ready for passage and Presidential assent.

“I am happy to state that most of what we call ‘citizens top priorities’ on the Electoral Act Amendment, including the use of technology have been addressed by the Electoral Bill, 2021.”

The Senate had on October 13, re-amended certain aspects of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill contained in Clauses 43, 52, 63 and 87, respectively.

The re-amendment to the clauses was duly carried out amid a motion for re-committal sponsored by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi.

Accordingly, while adopting the conference committee report, the Senate approved the re-amended clauses to provide for direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.  

The Clause 52

In all, 21 clauses were harmonized, including the contentious clause 52; which makes provision for Electronic Transmission of Election Result(ETR).

The lawmakers settled for the Senate version which empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and grants it the discretion to deploy Electronic Transmission of Results.

On the nomination of candidates by political parties as contained in Clause 87, the National Assembly again adopted and passed the version of the Senate on direct primary as against indirect arrangement or leaving the option open for the political parties to decide.

The adoption of direct primary by the National Assembly is bound to conflict with the interest of Progressives Governors’ Forum who met in Abuja on Monday; expressing their displeasure on direct primary arrangement.

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