Reps pass Electoral Act Amendment Bill, agree with Senate on consensus

The House of Representatives has passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, thereby, agreeing with the Senate on consensus as part of the three modes of conducting party primaries by political parties.

Members of the House of Representatives [NASS]

In a brief deliberation on Tuesday in Abuja, the House of Representatives amended the controversial Clause 84 of the Bill.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the clause 84 deals with the mode of primary election to be used by political parties to select candidates for elective offices.

In the Committee of the Whole; the lawmakers adopted a harmonised version of Clause 84 of the Bill with that of the Senate.

Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Reps, said it had concluded its task on the Amendment to the Electoral Act by passing the amendment to Clause 84 on the mode of conducting primaries by parties to produce candidates.

Clause 84 was the reason President Muhammadu Buhari withdrew his assent with the only option of direct primaries.

NAN reports that while the Senate on Jan. 19, adopted direct, indirect and consensus mode of party primaries, the House of Reps adopted direct and indirect mode.

Rep. Benjamin Kalu, the Spokesperson of the House of Reps told newsmen that the house noticed that the Senate added consensus which was not part of what the president recommended.

He said that the house in its wisdom admitted that such differences in the mode of party primaries by the two chambers could be an issue that would cause a delay in assenting the bill by the president.

“So, we decided to wave the house rule to enable us look at other options that will satisfy the needs of time.

“The political parties are calling for full options, which are direct, indirect and consensus,” he said.

Kalu said that the consensus option would not be the usual way of preparing a list of candidates to be submitted by political parties, adding that there would be conditions for such consensus to be qualified as one.

He said that there was nothing to be worried about on the issue of consensus, adding that there must be a written consent of other aspirants indicating their voluntary withdrawal of other aspirants in any consensus arrangements.

“And where such consensus failed, it shall go to direct or indirect primary or a special convention shall be held to ratify the choice of a consensus candidate,” he said.

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