• Wants presidential poll held last
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Christiana Ekpa
The National Assembly yesterday amended the 2010 Electoral Act in which it reordered the sequence for the 2019 general elections.
The new amendment is contrary to the sequence adopted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), thereby scaling down the powers of the commission to determine which election to come first.
In the new sequence which was adopted by the conference committee set up by both chambers to harmonize the amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act, the lawmakers unanimously adopted the version of the House of Representatives, which stated that the Presidential Election should come last, contrary to the earlier sequence adopted by INEC in which the Presidential polls was meant to come first.
Recall that there had been conflict between the INEC and House of Representatives over the plans by the green chambers to reorder the sequence of the 2019 election, for which the commission had gone to court to challenge the powers of the lawmakers to alter the election sequence.
There are unconfirmed reports that the lawmakers aim for insisting that the election sequence be reordered was to enable them work against the president if they fail to win return to the National Assembly.
In amending section 25(1) of the 2010 Electoral Act, the National Assembly approved that the date for the Area Council Elections for chairmen and members should be at a date to be determined by the INEC, adding that the constitution only empowered the electoral commission to determine the date for the elections and not the sequence.
In his opening remarks during the meeting for concurrence, the chairman of the Conference committee, Suleiman Nazif, who is also the chairman of the Senate committee on INEC, said the senate and the House of Representatives will not relent to serve as a buffer to good governance and deepening of democracy at all level.
He said the National Assembly will continue to provide formidable legislative framework and instrument that are required for entrenching of democracy in the country. He said the conference committee was set up by both chambers to harmonies the areas of difference, assuring that the committee will be thorough and will effect the amendments without fear or favour.
He also said the lawmakers will not waiver to provide an electoral instrument that is devoid of frost and controversies to make it stand the test of time. He said also that the committee will continue to consult with stakeholders both within and outside the country to add value to both the electoral system and the INEC.
While reeling out the sequence of the new amendment, Nazif said “A: National Assembly election, B: State Assembly and Governorship, C: Presidential election. The date for these elections shall be as appointed by the INEC. The date for the election of chairman and members of the Area Councils shall be appointed by INEC”.
In his remarks, Dino Melaye, said the constitution of Nigeria only empowers the INEC to appoint the date for the election, but the schedule of the elections is the sole responsibility of INEC, contrary to the insinuations in the social media, urging the public not to mix them together.
Also, Shehu Sani, explained that the new sequence will give equal opportunity to all political party, and not targeted at anybody as being speculated in the media, adding that it will also allow the voters to vote for the candidates based on their personal qualities and accomplishment rather than on bandwagon effect.
He said it will contain the anomalous bandwagon effect as witnessed in the past, adding that for the fact that the both chambers and all the members of the conference committee concurred with the decision, makes it a whole parliamentary arrangement and decision.
Members of the senate concurrence committee are: Chairman of the concurrence committee, Suleiman Nazif, Peter Nwoboshi, Dino Melaye, Shehu Sani, Hope Uzodimma, Gilbert Nnaji, Biodun Olujimi. The other six from the House of Representatives are Edward Pwajok, Taye Monguno, Gabriel Onyemife, among others.