National Assembly to amend, pass electoral bill Wednesday – Lawan

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan

The National Assembly will amend and pass the Electoral Amendment bill on Wednesday, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has said.

He disclosed this at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday shortly after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr Buhari had rejected the bill in December.

He cited insecurity, the cost of conducting direct primaries and infringement on the rights of Nigerians to participate in governance as his reasons for declining assent.

The president had, however, said, if changes are made to the clause, to include consensus and indirect primary options as the modes of selecting candidates for elections, he would sign the bill.

In his address, Mr Lawan said the lawmakers will amend the controversial clause in the bill to allow for other mode of primaries.

He said after passage, the legislation will be transmitted to the president – by the end of the week.

“…by the grace of God tomorrow (Wednesday) both chambers…will pass the bill. And I hope that by before the end of the week, the bill could be brought back to Mr President for his assent.

“I hope so but one thing I’m sure by the grace of God is, we are passing the bill tomorrow Wednesday the 19th (December) in both chambers,. And we are happy that at the end of the day, we have been able to narrow down our differences and arrive at the very patriotic resolution that our country must have a new electoral law that will guide the 2023 general elections, and Nigeria would have everything to benefit from this law.

“I hope that the cleaning process will not take more than a day. But if it does, then it has to be early next week. But I’m very optimistic that there is not much to clean because normally when we pass the bill like this, it goes to the legislative drafting unit of the National Assembly ” Mr Lawan said.

He also disclosed that political parties will be allowed to choose their mode of primary elections to select candidates for elective offices.

“What we need to do is not waste time. Time is of essence in this respect. We should just look at the possibility of opening up the mode of primaries so that you can have direct, you can have indirect and even consensus. And it is up to political parties to decide which option is okay for them, and at what time.

“But I am sure that all the options will be used, all the options will be used by political parties, in different occasions or whatever ” the Senate President said.

Mr Lawan further said Nigerians “who claim there are drafting errors in the bill, probably saw the version passed by the Senate or the House and not the ‘clean’ version”.

“…maybe what they had was the bill passed in the Senate or House, not the one that was cleaned up. The final document was cleaned up because even we didn’t have that document.

“On the whole I think it’s a worthwhile exercise – that we have worked so hard in a very bipartisan manner to pass the Electoral Amendment bill,” he stated.

Details of the amendment will be deliberated upon during plenary on Wednesday. (Premium Times)