The House of Representatives has adopted the report of the joint conference committee on the Electoral Amendment Bill.
The House Committee of the Whole adopted the report laid by Akeem Adeyemi (APC, Oyo) despite protest by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta).
Mr Adeyemi, who co-chaired the conference committee, had laid the report of the committee at the commencement of plenary on Tuesday. Later, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila called for the consideration of the report.
However, Mr Elumelu called for more time for the members of the House to go through the report. He noted that there was no need to rush the consideration of the report.
He said the minority party was not aware of the content of the report, since the opposition party staged a walkout during the consideration of the bill in July.
“Members deserve to have a copy. I deserve to have a copy as the minority leader so that when consideration is being made, I will be able to make my contribution.
Mr Gbajabiamila responded that the conference committee report does not require debate, adding that the House was willing to give the minority leader ample opportunity to go through the document.
“Under normal circumstances, you have a right, but this is a harmonisation committee.
“The Electoral Act is something we have to do— we are running a little late. Nigerians have been asking for this thing since June. We are trying to do it thoroughly and properly, and we have delayed it until now. This House is adjourning till Tuesday because we need about two extra days for the committees to complete their work on the budget.
“You want us to push it till next week or upper next week? We don’t have that time,” he said.
Not satisfied with the explanation, Mr Elumelu said the bill was erroneously carried. Hence, he called for its consideration to be postponed.
“We never supported that consideration because it was erroneously carried. We walked out because of it. I do not have a copy to be sure of what was passed. There is no need to rush” he noted.
Hassan Fulata (APC, Jigawa), the chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, raised a point of order that the House already ruled on the bill.
He said the minority leader should come with a substantive motion if he wants to rescind the decision of the House.
Also, the Majority Leader, Ado Doguwa (APC, Kano), argued that the Speaker should not entertain any concerns from the minority leader.
“This is a House that has procedures. When the presiding officer gives an explanation, as far as I am concerned, the opinion of the Chair is final. Mr Speaker, you should not have allowed anyone to speak after you have spoken. The next thing is to take your position,” Mr Dogwa said.
Controversy on the bill…
Back in July, the bill was considered by the House and the Senate under controversial circumstances, particularly section 53(2), which deals with electronic transmission of results.
Also, the versions passed by the two chambers had differences hence the need for a conference committee.
The Senate subsequently changed its mind on the electronic transmission of results by adopting the position of the House.
Buhari to get bill in seven days
While briefing journalists, the spokesperson of the House, Ben Kalu (APC, Abia), and Mr Adeyemi disclosed that the bill has now been put in the hands of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Kalu said a clean copy of the bill will get to the president within seven days for assent, noting that the House will not pre-empt the president. However, the lawmakers will not rule out veto, if there is a need for that.
“It is important that Nigerians should know that we are not with the amendment of the Electoral Bill
“We cannot predict Mr President, and we cannot prophesy. The law is clear on if the need arises for veto of the president. Let us allow the president to look at the bill.
“If he finds anything we overlooked, he can send it back to us and there is enough time to look into it.”
The bill was rejected on several occasions by the president in the 8th Assembly. However, the inability to pass the bill could be traced to the acrimonious relationship between the legislature and the executive at the time.