What we’ll do following Buhari’s rejection of Electoral Bill

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the National Assembly would decide the fate of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill upon resumption from the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The lower chamber adjourned for the holidays after it received a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari declining assent to the Electoral Bill transmitted to him 30 days ago.

Following days of speculation on the bill, Mr Buhari had on Tuesday conveyed his decision to decline assent to the bill due to the controversial direct primaries clause in the bill.

Shortly after reading the president’s letter, Mr Gbajabiamila, in his end of the year remarks, said the lawmakers will do their duty for “country and God.”

Despite calls on the lawmakers to override the president, Mr Gbajabiamila, who introduced the direct primaries clause into the bill, said the parliament will not “throw away the baby with the bathwater.”

He said the direct clause was included because “we hoped will significantly enhance the conduct of our national elections and improve public confidence in our electoral outcomes.

“As it is now, that bill has not received presidential assent, and it falls to parliament to decide the best way forward.

“When we return in the new year, we will resume our efforts to reform the electoral system in our country. And we will do it together. That is what the Nigerian people expect of us, and we will do our duty for God and country.

“Whichever way it pans out, we must not throw out the baby with the bathwater and must deliver a credible and enduring electoral system to Nigerians. Every law is a living document and as long as it has breath, it must survive,” he said.

In his comment, the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) urged the House to amend the bill by expunging the direct primaries and send back the bill to the president.

He argued that the House cannot afford to wait till January to reconsider the bill.

“I am begging this House that we can suspend our rules, and immediately look at that talk about direct primaries. We can amend it, we still have enough time today. We can amend that clause and return it to Mr President before we adjourn for recess,” Mr Elumelu said.

Reacting to the plea, Mr Gbajabiamila said the urgency will be futile.

He explained that the Senate would have to concur with whatever amendment done by the House since Nigeria operates a bicameral legislative system.

Direct Primaries

Direct primary election is the mode of election where registered members of a party vote for who they want to be the candidate of their party.

Indirect primary election is the mode where delegates, including government appointees, elect a party’s candidates.

Mr Gbajabiamila, who moved the amendment that brought direct primary clause into the Electoral Bill, has been at the forefront of advocating for the clause.

In his letter, Mr Buhari cited legal, financial and security consequences for rejecting the bill

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