The electoral act amendment bill has generated several attacks and counter-attacks among Nigerians. Controversy has continued to surround the approval and passing of the bill.
Although the bill has been one of the major topics of discussion, many still do not have a grasp of what the bill entails.
The News Beam has, therefore, compiled everything you need to know for a detailed understanding of the stories surrounding the bill.
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What exactly is the Electoral Amendment Bill for?
The intent of the bill is to resolve issues about the use of modern technologies in elections and to set forth a specific method for choosing candidates running for elective offices.
The bill emphasizes electronic voting and transmission of results, as well as a direct mode of primaries respectively.
With a direct primary election, registered members of parties will be able to vote for their preferred candidate in the main elections. This is opposite of the indirect primary election where delegates solely make decisions on who will be the party’s candidate.
Lawmakers vs The Executive
On November 19, the National Assembly transmitted the bill to the Buhari for assent in pursuance of Section 58 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and the Acts Authentication Act 2004.
Apparently, this occurred after the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and approved the electronic transmission of results in October.
The constitutional window closed for President Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on Sunday, December 19, 2021 (30 days after submission for assent). The National Assembly was, therefore, at a position where the chances of overiding for executive was high.
Did The President Sign The Bill?
In light of the approaching general elections in 2023, many had hoped that the President would sign the bill this time, so that implementation would be seen during the elections.
However, this hope was crushed by the President today December 21, 2021 as he refused to sign to sign the electoral amendment bill.
The President wrote to the Senate explaining the bill was not signed into law because of factors like monetisation, litigation, high cost of conducting direct primaries, the security challenge of monitoring the election, and violation of citizens’ rights, marginalization of small political parties
According to Buhari, “The amendment as proposed is the violation of the underlying spirit of democracy, which is characterized by freedom of choices of which political party membership is a voluntary exercise of the constitutional right of freedom of association.”
Is this the first time?
No. It’s not.
The President has withheld his assent to virtually all amendments to the Electoral Act since taking office.
He first rejected the proposed law in March 2018. In the explanation for the rejection, the President said the bill would usurp INEC’s constitutional power to decide on election matters, including the dates and order of elections, if passed into law.
He rejected it again after citing “some drafting issues” that remain unaddressed following the prior revisions to the Bill.
Another rejection came months later in December. The President again explained that passing a new bill during a period an election year is close by will ‘create some uncertainty about the legislation to govern the process.’