•As Bill scale second reading
By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday passed through second reading a new Electoral Act amendment Bill, even as it proposed an electoral expenditure ceiling of Five billion naira for a presidential candidate of any political party.
A Governorship candidate, in the Bill pegged the expenditure at One 1 billion naira, N70 million for House of Representatives, N100 million for the Senate, N30 million for state House of Assembly hopeful, N30 million for local government/Area Councils Chairmanship candidate, and Five million naira for councilorship aspirant.
Speaking on the Bill, intended to repeal the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 (as amended) and enact the Independent National Electoral Commission Act 2020 Chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Hon, Aishatu Dukku explained that there were other far reaching amendment proposals in the Bill.
She disclosed that the draft Bill was product of collaboration of her committee and its Senate’s counterpart, the federal Ministry of Justice and INEC. Already, a product of inputs of the INEC, Federal Ministry of Justice.
“Everybody is being carried along. “We need the amendments to perfect our electoral processes, before the 2023 general elections”, she said, assuring Nigerians that with the time-saving approach adopted, the Bill be ready at a good time for assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.
During debate on its general principle on the floor, some members however observed that certain ambiguity in some of clauses, like the power of INEC to use card reader “and any other technological device” was questioned, as in the opinion of members, may give for mischief.
Minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu in his contribution also argued that issue of electoral expenditure should be reemphasised, in order not to scare interested Nigerians away for offices they rightly qualified for.
Also speaking, Chairman of the committee on judiciary, Luke Onofiok said “It is in line with the yearnings and expectations of Nigerians, as there are critical provisions for electoral credibility. He howevet questioned that suggestion that where there are over voting in an polling unit, INEC should cancelled and reschedule the polls in such a unit within 21 days. To ask for another date is to encourage breaching the Act. It is should be total annulment or cancellation”, he said.
The Bill has been committed to the Committee on Electoral Matters for father legislative action, after several more contributions to the debate, and its subsequent passage for second reading.