Electoral Act: Why we concur with Senate on consensus option – Reps

The House of Representatives on Tuesday said it decided to concur with the Senate on  the amendment to the Electoral Act on the mode of primary election to avoid acrimony and delay  in presidential assent to the bill.

Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs,  Benjamin Okezie Kalu (APC,  Abia),  made  the clarification after the lower chamber re-amended the bill recently rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Kalu said: “The issue of withdrawal of assent by Mr. President has to do with Clause 84. But when the President wrote to us, the  Senate decided to include consensus to direct and indirect primaries.

“The House in its wisdom looked at those things that are capable of causing delay by the president in signing the bill. We are not on ego trip but out to move the nation forward.”

He added: “We decided to waive our rules, Order 12 Rule 20 and 21providing that only issues requested  can be attended to. We suspended that particular provision and considered everything giving full options of direct and indirect primaries and consensus.”

The  House last Wednesday reconsidered the bill through an  accelerated process  but did not include the consensus mode of primary.

Earlier, the House  at  plenary went into an executive  session and immediately on resumption, Chairman, Rules and Business Committee, Abubakar Fulata (APC, Jigawa),  moved a motion for rescission of Section 84(2) and to dissolve into committee of the whole to consider the bill where the consensus option was agreed upon.

At the committee of the whole, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila  said  the proposed amendments provided the guidelines and procedure for the consensus mode of selecting candidates for election.

He said:  “The first relevant clause here is 84 (2) which says the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct, indirect primaries or consensus.”

Gbajabiamila consequently read out the affected sections to his colleagues.

He said: “Section 84(9) provides the definition of consensus mode of primaries and the conditions for the ratification of consensus candidates.

 (84(9a)  “A political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate.”

84(9b) “Where a political party is unable to secure the written consent of all aspirants for the purpose of a consensus candidate, it shall revert to the choice of direct or indirect primaries for the nomination of candidates for the aforesaid elective position.

84(9c) “A special convention or nomination congress shall be held to ratify the choice of consensus candidates at designated centres at the national, states, senatorial, federal and state constituencies as the case may be.”




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