The House of Representatives on Tuesday rescinded its decision on the mode of primary election in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
The House had last Wednesday reconsidered the bill by changing the mandatory direct primary clause in the bill.
It included indirect primary but did not include the option of consensus mode of primary.
On the other hand, the Senate had included consensus mode of primary election in the version it passed.
When the House resumed Tuesday, the lawmakers went into a closed-door session.
When it reconvened from the closed-door session, Abubakar Fulata (APC, Jigawa) moved a motion for rescission of section 84(2) and to dissolve into Committee of the Whole to consider the bill.
It was unanimously resolved that the option of consensus mode of primary election be included in the bill.
President Muhammadu Buhari had rejected the bill in 2021 over the inclusion of only the direct mode of primary election in the amended Electoral Bill sent to him for his assent.
Committee of the Whole consideration.
Explaining the provisions in the proposed amendments, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, who presided over the Committee of the Whole, said the proposed amendments provide the guideline and procedure for the consensus mode of selecting candidates for election.
“The first relevant clause here is 84 (2) which says the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct, indirect primaries or consensus,” Mr Gbajabiamila said during the committee of the whole.
According to Mr Gbajabiamila, to prevent abuse of consensus, political parties cannot just disqualify all candidates.
Section 84(9) provides the definition of consensus mode of primaries and the conditions for the ratification of consensus candidates.
84(9a) “A political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate.”
84(9b) “Where a political party is unable to secure the written consent of all aspirants for the purpose of a consensus candidate, it shall revert to the choice of direct or indirect primaries for the nomination of candidates for the aforesaid elective position.
84(9c) “A special convention or nomination congress shall be held to ratify the choice of consensus candidates at designated centres at the national, states, senatorial, federal and state constituencies as the case may be.”
Clause 84(3) provides that qualification or disqualification must be consistent with the constitution, hence, no political party can disqualify a candidate without recourse to the constitution.
“The second provision is sub 84 sub 3. It talks about qualifications of aspirants and candidates and it says a political party shall not impose nomination qualifications or disqualification criteria, measure or conditions on any aspirant or candidates for an election its constitution guidelines or rules for nomination of candidates for elections, except as prescribed under section 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 177 and 187 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999.
“This means that no party can disqualify anybody except in accordance with the constitution,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.
Briefing journalists after the passage of the bill, the spokesperson of the House, Ben Kalu (APC, Abia), said the leadership of both chambers met and resolved to adopt the new position instead of setting up a conference committee to harmonise the bill.