Electoral Act: House Passes Controversial Amendment Without 'NEC Membership'

Source: SAINT MUGAGA - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, Dec 16, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives today passed the 2010 Electoral Act (amendment) Bill, 2010 but without the contentious clause seeking to make National Assembly members automatic members of their parties’ National Executive Commission (NEC).

But Chairman for Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh has said the passage of the bill is to consolidate on the gains of democracy and not to undermine any institution.

Senate had last week passed the Electoral Act (amendment) bill, but deleted the controversial section 87, which mandates lawmakers’ automatic membership of their parties' NEC.

The membership of the NEC members of political parties, which was part of the bill, had drawn reactions within the polity, because of sub-sections (b)(iii, v, and vi) which provides that "presiding officers of the National Assembly who are members of the party; chairmen and vice chairmen of standing committees who are members of the party in the Senate and chairmen and deputy chairmen of standing committees, who are members of the party in the House of Representatives, should be members of the NEC of political parties."

The Deputy Whip of the House, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal had at today’s sitting prayed that section 1(1) of the amendment Bill which relate to order of parties’ primary elections be deleted. His prayers were unanimously adopted implying that parties are now left to choose the order of their primaries as contained in the 2010 Act.

Earlier, the Rules and Business Chairman, Hon. Ita Enang had sponsored a motion praying that the Bill be recommitted to the committee of whole, relying on Order 12 rule 10 of the standing orders of the House, noted this was necessary in view of new facts as well as issues that have arisen on the Bill.

According Enang, the issues that have generated some level of crisis ought to reconsidered, specifically Section 87(4) that had the controversial clause of automatic NEC membership.

When the motion was adopted, and the House reverted to Committee of the Whole, the contentious clause was deleted.

Meanwhile, the House 7-man harmonization committee met with their Senate counterpart today to harmonise areas of difference. The committee, which was announced by Deputy Speaker Usman Bayero Nafada who presided over plenary, is made up of Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (PDP, Sokoto) as Chairman, and Deputy Minority Whip, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (ACN, Lagos) and chairman committee on electoral matters, Hon. Sarki Adar (PDP, Sokoto) and Rufus Omeire (PDP, Imo) as members.

Other members include Hon. Igo Aguma (PDP, Rivers) Hon. Samson Positive (PDP, Kogi) Hon. Cyril Maduabum (PDP, Anambra) and Abubakar Abubakar.

While briefing the press after plenary, media and public affairs chairman, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh urged Nigerians to make fruitful suggestions and inputs to the lawmakers instead of criticizing them.