Senate drops bill seeking to re-order election sequence 

The senate has dropped a bill that sought to re-amend the electoral act.

The senate had earlier passed a bill seeking to amend the act, thereby re-ordering the sequence of the election.

It sought to make the presidential election to come last, after governorship election, with the first being the state assemblies/national assembly and the second, the governorship election.

The presidential election is first in the election timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

But President Muhammadu Buhari withheld assent to it, saying it undermines the powers of the INEC.

The senate then re-introduced the bill, with the aim of overriding the presidential veto on it.

In the re-introduced version, however, the governorship election comes first, before the state assemblies/national assembly elections, with the presidential election still being the last.

When the bill was called up for second reading on Wednesday, some of the senators wondered why a different version of what was passed earlier should be re-introduced.

Some senators also kicked against the bill, describing it as “legislative rascality.”

Olusola Adeyeye from Osun state said “this was not the original bill that was passed by the senate”.

He also said: “The spirit of the law is to give the electoral body total independence. If INEC is given any prerogative to choose dates and they do so, please let us leave things the way they are.

“INEC in the past were given the freedom to choose their dates for election, we must not change it now. Let us leave them to fix the dates themselves; anything else is legislative rascality.”

Similarly, Tayo AlasoAdura from Ondo state said the senate does not have the constitutional right to change the sequence of the election.

“We are leaving what we are asked to do to now face what is not relevant. Let this bill die as it had come,” he said.

However, Dino Melaye, from Kogi state, said the senate still has the constitutional powers to amend the electoral act and change the sequence of elections.

He, however, asked his colleagues to postpone the second reading “for us to research more on it” — a prayer they rejected.

“While the constitution empowers INEC to only fix dates for election, the power for order and sequence of election is within the constitutional mandate of the national assembly,” he said.

“I believe that the second reading be taken another day because some of us believe in research.”

Thereafter, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, who presided over the session, said President Muhammadu Buhari did no fault the entire bill.

“The president has made observations in some parts of the bill. He did not say the bill we passed was entirely useless,” he said.

“It is therefore important that we remove all those areas that the president had objected to and pass the remaining items as a separate bill and send it back to him.

“Then we can do the new part that has issues as a separate bill.”

The senate adopted his resolutions and subsequently asked the committee on INEC to withdraw the bill while they work on the one initially passed.

 THE CABLE

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