Senate Plans To Reschedule Presidential, NASS, Governorship Elections

The Senate yesterday set up a committee to reschedule the timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of presidential, National Assembly and gubernatorial elections. Senate President Bukola Saraki, who made the announcement, inaugurated a six-man committee of senators to reconcile the Senate’s version of the amended Electoral Act with the version passed by the House of Representatives.

By the Senate’s amendment, in 2019, the National Assembly election will hold first, followed by gubernatorial and state assembly polls while the presidential election will be conducted last. LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that the Senate had, in 2017, passed an amended version of the 2010 Electoral Act. Also yesterday, the House of Representatives equally passed an amendment to the Electoral Act to change the order of 2019 general elections’ timetable.

Consequently, the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Senator Suleiman Nazif, will chair the team. Members include, Senators Shehu Sani, Biodun Olujimi, Hope Uzodinma, Dino Melaye and Peter Nwaoboshi. Stating the mandate of the committee, Saraki explained that it was expected to quickly meet with the House of Representatives to harmonise the version of the amended electoral bill before it is finally sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.

The lawmakers in the lower chamber, while considering the report of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, had amended the Electoral Act 2010, awaiting reconciliation with Senate.

It amended section 25 of the Principal Act and substituted it with a new section 25 (1). According to the section, the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly election (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election. Similarly, section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note “time for primaries of political parties”. “The primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence (i) State House of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship, and (iv), President. “The dates for the above stated primaries shall not be held earlier than 120 days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.”

Section 36 is amended to allow running mates of candidates who die before the conclusion of elections inherit their votes and continue with the process, an amendment which seeks to avoid the confusion which attended the death of Prince Abubakar Audu in Kogi State during the 2015 governorship election. LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that Prince Audu, the APC candidate, had died after the election and just before the result was announced in an election he was poised to win. The court ruled that the runner-up in the primary would inherit his votes and continue with the election.

DPC Demands Limit To Parties’ Registration, Lawmakers’ Tenure As the National Assembly continues with the ongoing constitution review, the Democratic People’s Congress (DPC) has called on the lawmakers to put a cap on the number of political parties that should be registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The party, in a statement by the national chairman, Rev Olusegun Peters, also demanded a three-term limit for lawmakers in the constitution amendment, saying most of them have not served the interest of the people. The party said that National Assembly should remove the clause in the Electoral Act which states that after 30 days of application for registration as a political party, the association seeking registration should be deemed registered if it did not hear or receive correspondence from INEC on the status of its registration application.

In the statement, the party called for the immediate amendment of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, to provide a term limit for members of the Senate and House of Representatives which shall not exceed three terms.

It said this will make federal legislators sit up and make laws that will enhance good governance which will boost the well-being of the citizenry. “Some misguided legislators have turned the National Assembly to a house of commotion, corruption and retirement home where they make laws to satisfy their insatiable lust for power and wealth. Most of them have not sponsored or co-sponsored any bill since they were ‘voted’ into the National Assembly”, it added.

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