National Assembly drops bill seeking to reorder election sequence



Both chambers of the National Assembly has stepped down the electoral amendment bill which seeks to reorder the sequence of elections.

The controversial electoral amendment bill was suspended at plenary on Wednesday, April 18, 2018.

Speaking on the bill, Senator Suleiman Nazif argued that the bill would not limit the discretion of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to perform their functions as provided by law.

“Elections to each house of the national assembly shall be held on a date to be appointed by INEC in accordance to the electoral act,”  Nazif said.

“This National Assembly provides in the case an act to the exercise of this discretion of INEC. It is the constitutional responsibility of the national assembly after due consultation with their President to determine the sequence that bests suits the yearnings and aspiration of majority of the electorates in Nigeria.

“Therefore having sampled the option of majority of Nigerian voters across the nation and those in diaspora, it has become clear that the proposed sequence will guarantee a free election. This is also important so as not to give a candid and undue advantage in any election to avoid any situation where a certain candidate who may ordinarily not win an election would rest on the floor of victory of the superior,” he concluded.

At the House, Plateau lawmaker, Edward Pwajok, who sponsored the bill, said declared his intention to withdraw same at plenary.

The lawmaker noted that after consultations, he was advised to withdraw the bill.

In the upper chamber, Senate leader, Ahmad Lawan described the bill as unnecessary adding that it would increase the cost of conducting elections in the country.

“Let me right away state very clearly that I am total vehemently and comprehensively against this bill,” he began. “I said before that I voted against the desire of the national assembly to determine the sequence of elections and when I said that, I also added that I am going to vote again against it and I am doing that today.

“Let’s be practical. In addition to unnecessarily incurring an avoidable cost in elections, the national assembly, the federal government, particularly the legislature here, this chamber and that one in the house should be able to be in place at any time to legislate for the good governance of this country.

“Therefore, when you leave them to come later, if something happens, where would Nigeria be? Without the National assembly and the President. I would believe that the right thing for us is not to legislate on the sequence but to support INEC to conduct very free, fair and transparent elections and also ensure that this national assembly is prudent when it comes to cost and expenditures rather than bringing additional cost.

“Let me expatiate on additional cost. We had 2 elections in 2015. The national or federal elections and the state elections for governorship and state assembly. Now we are introducing clause which we don’t need. Based on these facts, I want to advice we stick with what we practiced in 2015. We appropriate what INEC needs to ensure that this country does not go into any crisis,” he added.

The lawmakers resolved that the bill be stepped down and referred to the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, with a mandate to remove the clauses faulted by President Muhammadu Buhari, for which he withdrew his assent.

Other parts of the bill not faulted by the president would be forwarded to him for assent.

Senator Omo-Agege was suspended for accusing the Senate of working against President Buhari over the electoral amendment bill.



The Pulse     19/04/2018