Nearly a dozen lawmakers walked out of plenary as the upper legislative chamber adopted a report by the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on the Amendment to the Electoral Act on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Senator Suleiman Nazif, presented the report before it was put to adoption by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and voted for by a majority of the chamber.

The Senate President didn't give room for debate on it as it was from a conference committee which had harmonised the versions of the two chambers, and he overruled three senators who raised points of order to protest against the adoption.

As a form of protest, about 10 Senators, according to TheCable, walked out of the session and promised to insist on a reversal as the review is believed to be a plot targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.

Amended election timetable

The House of Representatives had revised the 2010 Electoral Act on January 23 when lawmakers voted to ensure the presidential election should be conducted last instead of first, as currently done.

The amendment was to replace the extant Section 25 in the principal Act with a new one.

The new Section 25(1) states, "Elections into the office of the President and Vice-President, the Governor and Deputy Governor of a state and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and Houses of Assembly of each state of the federation shall be in the following order; National Assembly elections; state Houses of Assembly and governorship elections; and presidential election. The dates for these elections shall be as appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission."

Also, among the recommendations endorsed by the House, candidates seeking to withdraw from an election can do so 30 days ahead. A total of 156 clauses were amended in the Act.

With the adoption of the amendment by the Senate, President Buhari will have to give it a final assent to give INEC the time to effect the changes ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Timetable for 2019 general elections

In the official timetable for the 2019 general elections released by INEC, February 16, 2019 has been set for the presidential elections with the elections for the National Assembly also taking place on the same day.

The elections for state governors, state assembly representatives, and council representatives will take place on March 2, 2019.

The commission also announced that election campaigns for all political parties and candidates seeking to contest for the Presidential and National Assemblies will commence on November 18, 2018 and end on February 14, 2019.

Political parties and candidates seeking to contest for Governorship and State Assembly elections will commence campaigns on December 1, 2018 and end on February 28, 2019.

Collections of forms for all elections by political parties at the INEC headquarters in Abuja will commence on August 17, 2018 and end on August 24, 2018 while all party primaries and resolution that might arise as a result of disagreement of primary elections should commence between August 18, 2018 and end on October 7, 2018.