18th January, 2022
By Femi Ogunshola
Just like their colleagues in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, members of House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected admonitions by some stakeholders, including the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021.
Rather, House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila said at the resumption of plenary for the 2022 legislative year on Tuesday in Abuja that the Electoral Amendment Act Bill will be introduced on Jan. 19 at the floor of the green chamber for consideration.
According to the Speaker, the House would work quickly to address the mitigating concerns, pass the bill and send it back to the President for assent.
The planned reintroduction of the Bill followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign it after it was passed by the National Assembly in 2021.
The President had frown at the mandatory direct party primaries mode imposed on all political parties at the bill, which appeared undemocratic.
Gbajabiamila, however, said that he remained convinced that direct primary election was valuable for building accountability in the political system.
“But we must not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Therefore, the House will reintroduce the amendment.
.“On issues relating to inelegant drafting and other technical errors in the Bill, this is a matter of concern as it appears the version sent to the President differs from what is circulating in the public domain.
“However, in December 2021, I appointed a technical team to look into the issue. I expect to have their report within the next day or two so that we can proceed to the next stage,” he said.
He said that the House had less than 13 months to the next general election, noting that time was of the essence.
He said that a credible electoral law was what the people wanted and it was what the people deserved that must be given to them.
The speaker said that the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill included many other provisions that would serve the country’s democracy well, adding that the country cannot afford to throw away the baby with the bathwater.
He also said that the current constitutional review effort was as crucial as the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.
He stated that amending the nation’s constitution to address longstanding areas of disagreement and remove the vestiges of militarism from the country’s democracy was one of the central commitments the House would pursue.(NAN)