National Assembly ignores Governors, passes Electoral Amendment Bill to Buhari

Buhari and Nass

President Muhammadu Buhari will on Friday receive the harmonised version of the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment Bill) from the National Assembly as lawmakers ignored the Nigerian Governors’ Forum pressure to remove the Direct Primaries clause in the bill.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Kabiru Gaya, revealed this on Thursday.

Gaya announced the transmission of the bill to the President while briefing newsmen in Abuja after submitting the INEC 2022 Budget.

He said he believes in Direct Primaries because it is about taking democracy to the grassroots.

He said: “I believe that direct primary is taking democracy to the grassroots.

“That is what President Buhari always talk about.

“It will allow people who are card carrying members of the party to decide who should be their candidate.

“We are happy with it and we believe that President Buhari will sign the bill very soon.

“The National Assembly will transmit the bill to the President this week for assent and we expect that he will sign it into law by the grace of God.”

Gaya added that the amendments were made based on request from Nigerians.

He said: “The amendments were made based on the views and requests of Nigerians.

“I believe that it will help to guarantee free, fair and credible elections in the country.”

On malfunctioning BIVAS during the Anambra State governorship election, he said: “We keenly watched the Anambra governorship election and we realised that BIVAS has serious problems.

“We are surprised that the machines malfunctioned at the Anambra governorship election because they worked perfectly when INEC demonstrated them for us at the committee.

“We have agreed to try the machines in other elections coming up in 2022 so as to determine their functionality before the 2023 general elections.

“We still have the Ekiti and Osun elections coming up.

“However, INEC is already working on the solution so that we would not have problems in 2023.

“I will not agree that it is a case of sabotage because it is an electronic device that could fail, but we already have provisions for spare.

“If a machine fails, a new one would be brought in.

“It is even good that it happened in the Anambra governorship election.

“If it had happened at the general elections, it would be a catastrophe.

“Unlike in the past when funds for elections were released a few weeks to elections, this time, we specifically mentioned that part of the funds meant for the election must be provided a year before the election.

“That is why we have a proposal for partial release of N100 billion for the 2023 general elections in the 2022 budget.

“We are hoping that we could get further funding before the election.

“The N100 billion will allow INEC to order materials that it would need ahead of the elections, including machines that could be manufactured here in the country.”

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