Electoral Bill: National Assembly to delete direct primary

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Femi Gbajabiamila
Femi Gbajabiamila

Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke about how the National National Assembly plans to break the impasse over the Electoral Act Amendment Bill yesterday.

He hinted that when lawmakers reconvene next month, they might remove the contentious clause from the bill before passing it into law.

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If legislators fail to muster the two-thirds majority votes required to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on the Bill, he claims, they may resort to this option.

While fielding questions from reporters after commissioning some projects in his Surulere I Constituency in Lagos, Gbajabiamila listed the two options.

On December 20, President Muhammadu Buhari vetoed the bill and sent it back to the National Assembly, citing concerns about the inclusion of direct primary elections for political parties as a reason for his decision.

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The President’s decision sparked a crisis between the White House and the National Assembly, which threatened to overthrow him.

Some critics have asked Congress to override the Presidents’ decisions.

“If you followed the history of the amendment of the direct and indirect primary bill, I initiated that amendment bill for a good reason, and that reason is for people to participate in elections,” Gbajabiamila said, acknowledging the calls from concerned stakeholders. These are the people you see when you run for office every four years, rain or shine.

“It doesn’t make sense to me that these people have no say in who represents them.” It’s a part of being used, which I didn’t like.

“Most of us are reformers, and one way to reform the system is to make it more accountable, and to give people a say in who represents them rather than a few people sitting in four corners of a room writing results.”

“That was the whole point of the amendment.” There is, once again, a procedure.

“The President, in his wisdom – and I believe he did it with the best of intentions based on advice he received – carefully weighed everything. You know, the President has always been a man who, due to his popularity, has always preferred direct primaries.

“But, I suppose, times have changed; he appears to have listened to people he has hired to advise him, and they advised him against the amendment.”

“So, there’s a process; we’ll go back to the house and see if those reasons are acceptable to the National Assembly; if they are, we’ll consider removing that clause and passing the bill so we don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.”

“However, it is not a decision for me to make; it is a decision for the National Assembly as a whole.” If they determine that the reasons are insufficient, they must follow the Constitution’s procedures. What direction will the pendulum swing? Until then, I have no idea.

“I’m not able to read people’s minds.” To override the veto, we’ll need two-thirds of the vote. The Constitution specifies a two-thirds majority for a reason. Veto is a difficult thing to override. We will remove the clause and pass the bill as is if they can muster enough support and believe it is in the best interests of Nigeria; otherwise, we will remove the clause and pass the bill as is so that we have a law, and what Nigerians deserve is a credible electoral law and process, which they must receive.”

The Speaker, while supporting the President’s recent announcement of a 20% increase in police pay, pointed out that there was no provision for its implementation in the 2022 budget passed by the legislature and sent to the President for assent.

Since the new salary structure will take effect next month, Gbajabiamila has requested an extra-budgetary provision.

With a letter dated December 24, the legislators sent President Buhari the 2022 budget for his approval.

“I believe at the time when the increase was done – and I commend the President for that, it’s been a long time coming and well deserved for the police; They are out there doing everything they can to keep us safe,” Gbajabiamila said. For cops, no amount of money will be too much.

“I believe we were way over budget at the time that decision was made.” We were on the verge of finishing the budget. As a result, I believe a supplementary budget will be presented to accommodate the increase.

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“It will be transported and accommodated.” There’s no point in announcing a raise if there’s no money to back it up. That, I believe, will be done by the president.”

The Obele Mini Stadium on Dosunmu Road; Adedoyin Road, Ojikutu; Ishola Road by Randle; Rasaq Balogun Mini Stadium; Razaq Balogun Road and Adeniran Ogunsanya, Surulere, Lagos were among the projects inaugurated.

“What is my job as a legislator?” Gbajabiamila said of the projects. It is to represent all citizens, both those who voted for me and those who did not. That’s what we’ve been working toward for years, even before I became speaker, and it’s what I’ve been doing since my first year in office. I’ve been doing nothing but that.

“You said 137 roads, but it goes way beyond that if you count back to when I was first elected to the House of Representatives.” We give God all the credit for what we’ve accomplished. “We made promises and kept them.”

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