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NASS Buries Election Sequence Saga



The National Assembly yesterday appeared to have buried the controversy surrounding the election sequence bill when both chambers backtracked on the issue to return to the status quo.

Senate’s attempt to represent the bill to reorder sequence of the 2019 general elections failed yesterday with the withdrawal of a new bill proposed to that effect.

The  Senate as well as the House of Representatives had in their passage of the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 in February this year,  proposed a new sequence of elections for 2019 by placing the National Assembly election first, followed by State Houses of Assembly/ Governorship elections and Presidential election last.

The House of Representatives has stepped down the bill on the Electoral Act amendment 2010, which seeks to change election sequence in the country.

The bill was purportedly ‎sponsored Hon Edward Pwajok and seven others members of the House.

However, Pwajok who was expected to re-introduce the bill announced that he wants to step it down, following due consultations with his colleagues.

Meanwhile, House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, whose name was listed among the sponsors of the bill, said he knew nothing about the bill and that he never consented to it.

“I want to put the records straight. I observed that my name is among the sponsors of this bill, but I want to say it here that I didn’t know anything about the bill,” he said.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari in his rejection said the inserted section in the Electoral Act violates the provisions of section 72 of  the 1999 constitution which empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) , to fix dates of elections and see to its conduct in all ramifications.

In his lead debate on the Bill titled: “ A Bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act to make provisions for sequence of elections in Nigeria and for related matters”,  the chairman , Senate Committee on INEC, Suleiman Nazif disclosed that the new reordered sequence of elections would start with Governorship/State Houses of Assembly elections, followed by the National Assembly election and Presidential election last .

But majority of  the Senators in their contributions to the debate kicked against the bill , which made the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, to rescue it from total death by reverting it back to the committee for more legislative inputs.

In his remarks, Ekweremadu said : “Essentially we are here to serve the interest of our people, if anybody has ulterior motive, I don’t understand myself. It is important for all of us to be on the same page in matters such as this.

“We passed the electoral act and then we sent it to the president, the president returned that bill with a number of observations. One of the observations he made was in respect of order of election, he also made observation with regards to local government elections which the National Assembly was given power under that bill to make laws.

“President has made observations in respect of some aspects of that bill, he did not say that the bill we passed was entirely useless. In order to save those noble provisions in the electoral act it is important that we remove all those areas that the president had objected to and pass the remaining items as a separate bill and send it back to him then we can now deal with the issues where he has issues as a separate bill altogether, then we either defeat it or have it succeed.

“If it succeeds, we send it to the president and he decides what to do, if he brings it back, we also decide what to do. We need to clean up that bill so that we will be able to save all those provisions that were already made in the elaborate bill”.