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Electoral Act amendment: Senate bows to Buhari, includes consensus for party primaries

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The Senate on Wednesday included the consensus mode of primary in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill as suggested by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

Both chambers of the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives, however, deleted compulsory direct primaries from the bill.

While the House gave options of parties adopting direct or indirect primaries, the Senate included direct and indirect primaries as well as the consensus mode as suggested by the President during his interview with Channels Television a few weeks ago.

During the interview, Buhari said the lawmakers should include consensus, besides direct and indirect primaries.

He said, “All I said (is that) there should be options,” he said. “We must not insist that it has to be direct; it should be consensus and indirect.”

Buhari had last year vetoed the electoral bill and sent it back to the National Assembly over the restriction of political parties to direct primaries.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives had suspended action on the bill till resumption on Tuesday, after the Christmas and New Year break.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives amended Clause Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 which is Clause 84 of the electoral bill, by inserting the indirect primary option.

The Senate, however, adopted Clause 84(2) as recommended by the Committee of the Whole and approved direct primary, indirect primary or consensus as procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for elections.

The disagreement between both houses is expected to delay the passage of the bill.

The Senate also approved the recommended Clause 84(3) which prescribes that, “A political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party and shall adopt the procedure outlined below: (a) In the case of Presidential Primaries, all registered members of the party are to vote for aspirants of their choice at a designated centre at each ward of the federation.

It provides further that, “similar procedure as in (a) above, shall be adopted for governorship senatorial, federal and state constituencies.

The Majority Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC/Kebbi-North), had moved a motion for the recommital of the bill to the Committee of the Whole.

Abdullahi noted that the motion was against the backdrop of the “need to address the observation by Mr. President and make necessary amendment in accordance with Order 87(c) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended); and relying on order 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 ( as amended).”

The Senate’s move, it was learnt, was based on the request by the President

However, it was not a smooth ride for the bill at the House. There was tension in the House as members were divided on whether to amend the legislation or override the President’s vote.

At the opening of plenary on Wednesday, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, beckoned on some leaders of the House, who approached his seat.

Shortly after, other leaders and ranking members of the House joined the meeting.

Those who met with Gbajabiamila included the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu; Chairman, House Committee on Finance, James Faleke; Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, among others.

Other lawmakers watched as they engaged themselves in arguments for over 15 minutes.

Our correspondent observed that Elumelu was particularly in disagreement with what was being said by others at the meeting.

Gbajabiamila consequently called for an executive (closed-door) session, which lasted about 30 minutes.

As the chamber was opened, there was noise in the chamber, which showed that there was a disagreement among the lawmakers.

Elumelu and the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, led other opposition members to a corner of the chamber where they met for about five minutes, agreed on what to do and dispersed to their respective seats.

As the Speaker called the chamber to order, he asked that all items on the day’s order paper be stepped down except the recommital of the electoral bill – Item 6, being first motion of the day; and Item 9, being the first report for consideration.

Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, moved the motion for the recommital to the Committee of the Whole.

Elumelu seconded the motion.

Ado-Doguwa moved the motion that the House dissolve into Committee of the Whole to consider the bill, while Leke Abejide seconded the motion.

At the Committee of the Whole, consideration of the bill did not start until 18 minutes, during which the lawmakers conferred with themselves in groups and copies of the legislation were distributed to them.

The Speaker recalled how Buhari withheld assent to the bill, read out Paragraph 5 of the President’s letter to the National Assembly. Gbajabiamila also cited Order 12 Rule 20 of the Standing Orders of the House which prescribed how the lawmakers should go about rejected bills.

Considering the report by the Committee of the Whole, Gbajabiamila put the amended Clause 84(2) to voice vote and it was unanimously adopted.

The clause now reads, ‘The procedure for nomination of candidates by political parties for various elective positions shall be by direct primaries or indirect primaries.’

As the House was to revert to plenary, an opposition member, Dagomie Abiante (PDP/Rivers) raised a point of order to say that “there are other errors,” which Gbajabiamila said were “being looked into.”

The Speaker, however, ruled him out of order, stating that the rules of the House, which he had read out, were specific about the process and the lawmakers were bound by the limitations. “We are confined to the observations made by Mr President. We have a near-perfect document; it may not be perfect but we have a near-perfect document,” he stated.

After Gbajabiamila overruled Abiante, several lawmakers approached the Speaker where they were seen pointing out things in the bill to him.

We amended only Clause 84(2), states Gbajabiamila
After the meeting that lasted about 10 minutes, the House adopted the report from the Committee of the Whole.

The Speaker explained what had been done to the bill, saying, “For emphasis’ sake, I need to state categorically that what was considered and adopted by the House was only a clause and that was Clause 84(2). “

Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, who addressed journalists after the session, stated that Buhari was specific about the amendments he sought from the National Assembly, which was having the direct and indirect options.

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2023: Buhari may meet Osinbajo, Tinubu, Amaechi, others

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President Muhammadu Buhari would this week meet with all the preidential aspirants of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The meeting was called with a view to reducing the number of presidential hopefuls and also ensuring that all of them pledge to accept the outcome of the primary as was done during the APC presidential primary in 2014.

“The President will meet with the aspirants a few days to the primary with a view to ensuring that there is unity and harmony. He will also meet with the governors separately. The date is not fixed yet, but it should be this week if INEC doesn’t extend the deadline for the primary as we are all hoping,” said an APC chieftain who wished to remain anonymous.

“The President has a candidate. How to present the idea to the likes of Tinubu will be the challenge,” he added.

Buhari’s most senior spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, had said last week that the President indeed had a preferred candidate.

He stated, “In a previous interview when the President was asked whether he had a favourite candidate, he answered yes; but he will not mention him because mischief may happen to that person.

“That shows you that the President himself is interested in the process and he has a preferred candidate; but whether he will impose his candidate is what you cannot determine at the moment.”

When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said he was not aware of any meeting the President would be having with the aspirants.

“I am not aware of any meeting as of now,” he said.

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Gunmen behead abducted Anambra lawmaker from Governor Soludo’s constituency, hang head in motor park

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Gunmen who abducted a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Okey Okoye, have beheaded him.

After beheading him, his head was reportedly displayed at a motor park in Nnobi, Idemili South Local Government Area of the state.

The incident, which happened on Saturday, created panic in the community, which had been witnessing a series of violent killings since last year.

Sources added that his body was not there and indications were that the killers removed the body.

“The Anambra lawmaker representing Soludo’s constituency, Okechukwu Okoye who was earlier kidnapped, has been beheaded by gunmen; the late lawmaker’s head was mounted at Chisco Park in Amichi community,” a military source said on Saturday.

Gunmen had last Sunday abducted the lawmaker who was representing Aguata II state constituency in Aguata alongside Cyril Chiegboka, his campaign director.

Governor Charles Soludo had said during the week that efforts were ongoing to rescue the Anambra lawmaker from his abductors.

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MC Oluomo allegedly demands N100million to support re-election of Oshodi Rep member

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Chairman of the Lagos State Parks Management Committee, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly called MC Oluomo, is allegedly demanding N100 million to support the re-election of the member representing Oshodi Federal Constituency 1 in the House of Representatives, Hon. Bashiru Dawodu.

Dawodu, a medical doctor, rode on the back of MC Oluomo to win the election in 2019 after series of attempts in the past.

Dawodu presenting his Certificate of Return to MC Oluomo

Both, however, fell apart few months after Dawodu was elected due to irreconcilable differences .

MC Oluomo is said to be angry with Dawodu for not honouring agreements he (Dawodu) had with him prior to his victory in 2019.

MC Oluomo, who is seen as de-facto leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oshodi was said to have vowed to work against Dawodu’s re-election in 2023.

He is believed to be working for the emergence of a former Chairman of Oshodi/Isolo Local Government, Afeez Ipesa Balogun to emerge as the APC’s candidate for the House of Representatives election in the constituency.

However, party leaders in the local government including the Chairman of the council, Kehinde Oloyede Almoof had appealed to MC Oluomo to tone down his opposition to Dawodu and support his re-election.

It was gathered that MC Oluomo did not turn down the fence-mending approach because he said he did the same with Oloyede who was his former arch-enemy.

It was further gathered that MC Oluomo demanded N100 million from Dawodu before he gets his support.

The money according to MC Oluomo is to settle his aides and loyalists, who supported Dawodu in 2019 but were abandoned by the Rep member.

According to sources at the various fence-mending meeting, appeals to MC Oluomo to reduce the amount were rebuffed.

Another dimension has, however, been added to the involvement of Oloyede in the matter.

The sources revealed that the council chairman, Oloyede is supporting Dawood because of his own interest.

Oloyede has been eyeing the Rep seat before his election as the council chairman.

Oloyede’s calculation according to the sources is that should Dawood gets the second term, it would be easy for him (Oloyede) to contest for the seat in 2027.

One of the sources who does not want his name in print because of backlash said : “Oloyede is supporting Dawood because of his own personal interest. He believes supporting Dawood may work for him in 2027.

Continuing, the source noted that Oloyede would rather support Dawodu over any other candidates because others eyeing the seat are first timers, who may want to seek for re-election in 2027.

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