Electoral Act amendment Bill: Reps make u-turn, back Senate on consensus

The House of Representatives on Tuesday rescinded its last week’s decision on the Electoral Act amendment Bill, adding the use of consensus option as mode of nomination of candidates for elective positions by political parties.

The House had last Wednesday while altering the Bill in line with reasons advanced by President Muhammadu Buhari for vetoing it, left only the options of the use of direct and indirect primaries for politics parties, arguing that it was against its rules to go beyond the specific requests of the President.

Offering explanations on the fresh development however, the House through its spokesman, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, said the rule had to be suspended in order for the new option of consensus to be added in the interest of the nation’s democracy, adding that the process of going through a conference with the Senate had also been addressed and no more necessary for want of time.

The latest adjustment has offered clearer definition on the processes and procedures through which a political party can arrive at a picking a consensus candidate for any elective post.

For instance, Claus 84(9) in its first subsection provided that where a party arrived at nominating a consensus candidate, the political party must obtain written consent of all aspirants to the said, signifying their withdrawal from the contest.

The new Claus 84(9b) also provided that where written consents of all aspirants to a particular position could not be obtained upon the adoption of a consensus candidate, the political party shall revert to the use of direct or indirect method of primary election, while 84(9c) stated that for a nomination of a consensus candidate to be valid, the political party must hold a special convention for the ratification of the nomination at designated centres at the level to which such position applies.

Also on the disqualification of aspirants, alterations have been made to relevant clauses of the Bill to the effect that a political party cannot disqualify any aspirant unless in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as it relate to qualifications for elective offices.

Responding to questions on whether the House opted to do the bidding of the President, as with the Senate, the spokesman said that was not the case, nothing that the House acted within its powers, and also “to meet with the realities of the times”, especially that political party leaders wanted to be offered full options for the manner in which candidates should be nominated.