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National Assembly To Resume Debate On Electoral Bill Rejected By Buhari

There are fresh discussions around the Electoral Act Amendment Bill rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari over direct primaries as the National Assembly resumes today from Christmas and New Year break.
Buhari had in a letter to the National Assembly, dated December 13, 2021, titled “Withholding of assent to Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021”, did not assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, giving economic, security and legal issues.

The Federal lawmakers, SaharaReporters reported, had proceeded on their recess after the president communicated to them the rejection of the amendments made to the 2010 Electoral Act. 
While there were debates to override the president’s veto at the Senate before the recess, the members of the House of Representatives said action would be taken on the draft law after their break.
The president divulged during an interview on national television that he would assent the electoral act bill if the lawmakers offer options for the conduct of political parties’ primaries. He enumerated the options to include; indirect, direct and consensus.
Ahead of the resumption of the National Assembly members, stakeholders in the country’s political scene including governors, civil society groups have suggested ways out of the issue.
In their reactions, rising from their meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Peoples Democratic Party governors yesterday appealed to the lawmakers to immediately act on the electoral bill.
There are concerns that any further delay on the Electoral Amendment Bill 2021 being signed into law could constitute a big drawback for the 2023 general elections as the electoral law is expected to be in place at least a year before the election to direct the activities of INEC.
Stakeholders comprising members of the civil society, the organised labour and media, among others, at a citizens’ town hall on “Electoral Bill 2021” held in Abuja on Sunday by Yiaga Africa and partners, were unanimous in urging members of the National Assembly to expeditiously conclude actions on the bill to ensure it becomes law.
In their various deliberations, they urged the lawmakers to remove the disputed provision on compulsory direct primaries by all political parties and resend the bill to the president for his assent.
A former Chairman of INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, advised the lawmakers not to dissipate energies on trying to override the president, but should instead, remove the clause on direct primaries to allow the bill receive presidential assent without further delay.
The Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi has said that one of the major agendas before the Senate was to aggregate opinions of senators on consultations with their constituents over the controversial issue of direct primaries.
The Senate Leader who was fielding questions from journalists at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, Monday, also said that the resumption for the legislative duties will enable the Senate to interact with the House of Representatives on the way forward over the electoral bill. 
He said that whatever position that would be taken on the controversial electoral bill would be in line with the provision of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

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